You already know that a whole bunch of Ohio State Buckeyes beat guys and fans are Mad Online about some words Marcus Freeman shared with
click farmer indefatigable journalist Dennis Dodd comparing the academic burdens placed on players for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with his alma mater. While Freeman has since attempted to play the diplomat and clean things up, I’m here to say: you don’t have to, Marcus. You did nothing wrong.
As college football fans, we live in a ridiculous world. A world where coaches of two-loss teams minutes removed from blowing their biggest game of the year on fake-punt shenanigans bitch and moan about undefeated teams making the playoff over them, and are taken seriously; where schools tote national championship claims from seasons in which they lost the actual championship game and receive little to no flak for doing so; where title-winning coaches whine about the challenges of out-recruiting FCS schools; and, most amusingly for Notre Dame fans, where coaches grind on recruits unabashedly on TikTok.
Marcus Freeman making an accurate-if-a-bit-overstated observation about the differences in academic strenuosity between Notre Dame and Ohio State should not even make a ripple in this world. But one of the ridiculous features of this ridiculous world is that utterly banal statements are treated as shocking and beyond the pale if they are made by and/or against the wrong person or program, so here we are.
To be clear: I believe Notre Dame fans do have a tendency to overrate the importance of the school’s academic standards as a stumbling block and too often use it as an excuse (while Notre Dame does have higher expectations than most other schools with elite football programs, there are plenty of accommodations made both during admissions and while players are in school to help them graduate and it absolutely does not have to be an albatross in recruiting). The thing is, anyone who has followed Marcus on the recruiting trail and in the press knows this isn’t his attitude. Far from using Notre Dame’s academic expectations as a shield against criticism or bemoaning them as a hindrance, Freeman is using it as a selling point in reaching out to elite recruits that his predecessor wouldn’t have even bothered with because he did see academics as a stumbling block.
If Ohio State fans are mad that Freeman is doing that - tough. College football recruiting is an intensely competitive world and part of that competition is differentiating what you have to offer from your peers. If they think what the Buckeyes have to offer is better, they’ll have an opportunity to show that in September. In the meantime spare me the tears and pearl-clutching because much like in baseball, there’s no room for that here.