According to multiple reports, Notre Dame first-year defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is the frontrunner to become Brian Kelly's successor and the program's next head coach. No contract has been finalized yet.
But if Freeman -- whose candidacy has been endorsed by current players -- is offered the job in the coming days, Big Ten Network analyst Joshua Perry believes the decision would set the Fighting Irish up for prolonged success as a national title contender.
"He's a phenomenal teacher, he can recruit his ass off. And I think those are all the things you really want in a guy who's leading your program," Perry told The DA Show on Thursday. "For him, it's a wonderful opportunity. I also think it's something Notre Dame really wants to do. This is a university that wants to have a young African-American head coach running their program. And I think it's going to work... Guys on the roster really want it, recruits really want it.
"And the fact that nobody on the coaching staff seems to want to go with Brian Kelly, they want it too and trust him to get the job done... It says a lot. These are people who know [Kelly] best, work with him every day. And they would rather stay with an unproven first-time head coach than the 60-year-old head coach who's proven he can compete for national titles, build a program, win 10-plus games a season. That's the ultimate coup, in my opinion..."
Notre Dame, which finished the regular season 11-1 overall and currently owns the sixth spot in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, has played strong defense under Freeman's stewardship. The unit ranks 11th in the nation in average points allowed (18.3) and they've held their last four opponents to just 23 combined points. Before joining Notre Dame's staff, Freeman spent four seasons as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Kelly, who signed a mammoth 10-year, $95 million deal with the LSU Tigers, took over as head coach of Notre Dame back in 2010. He led the program to 11 winning seasons, and two trips to the Playoff. On Sept. 25, he surpassed coaching legend Knute Rockne with 106 wins with the school, although the NCAA doesn't acknowledge 21 of those games due to recruiting penalties.
In order for the Fighting Irish to reach the coveted Playoff, they'll need quite a bit of help. As an independent, they're the only top-six team not participating in a conference title game on Saturday. Consequently, they'll be scoreboard-watching this weekend, crossing fingers that No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Alabama, and No. 5 Oklahoma State somehow falter. The final CFP rankings list will be released on Sunday.
The entire college football conversation between Perry and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.