During a "Dan Patrick Show" appearance, former Cincinnati Bearcats defensive coordinator and assistant Marcus Freeman - formally introduced Monday as the new head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish - told Patrick that he could not root against UC on Saturday in the AAC title game against Houston, even if a Bearcat loss might've led to a College Football Playoff berth for Notre Dame.
"We knew there was a scenario where two of the four things had to happen," Freeman explained to Patrick. "Finally I got a chance to just turn on the TV in the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma State game. And I saw the very end of that game, and that was one - one of the four. And then I could not root against Cincinnati.
"You know, those are kids that I helped recruit. ... I couldn't do it. Those are kids that you love. Those are kids you recruit. Those are kids you grow with. And Coach Fickell was obviously - he was my college position coach. And somebody that gave me the opportunity to be defensive coordinator for the first time.
Marcus Freeman 'rooting like heck' for Cincinnati
"And so I was rooting like heck for that program, for him and those kids. And they won. ... We control what we can control. And that's what I've told this group. And that's what I'm telling myself is what a great opportunity we have on Jan. 1 to play Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl."
Patrick asked Freeman whether he realizes that the loss to UC kept Notre Dame out of the playoff.
"It's crazy. As crazy as it sounds, yeah. That's the reason," Freeman responded. "And as much as you wanted to win that one, you know, if you could choose one team or one group of individuals to lose to, it's that group. Because I know the work they've put in. You know, I'm gonna be rooting like heck for them when they play Alabama."
From @dpshow via Twitter:
Despite the fact that a Cincy loss could've meant #NotreDame getting into the #CFBPlayoff, new #FightIrish Head Coach @Marcus_Freeman1 said he couldn't root against his former team this past weekend. Freeman was the #Bearcats DC from 2017-2020 pic.twitter.com/oHLYyIbO5t
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) December 6, 2021
Notre Dame players excited to have Marcus Freeman as head coach
Video shared via Twitter last Friday by @NDFootball of players reacting to Freeman being introduced to them for the first time as head coach indicated just how excited the team is for Freeman to replace former UC head coach Brian Kelly, who left last week for LSU.
Freeman, 35, worked as a coordinator and linebackers coach under Fickell at UC from 2017 to 2020 before joining Kelly's coaching staff in South Bend earlier this year.
Kelly texted players last week that his love for them is limitless and was introduced last Wednesday as the Tigers' new head coach. The Massachusetts native addressed a crowd at an LSU men's basketball game using a Louisiana accent.
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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Notre Dame's Marcus Freeman: 'I could not root against Cincinnati'