Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman takes jab at Ohio State's academics

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Anticipation for Ohio State's season opener against Notre Dame is already high.

Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman keeps adding to it.

In an interview with CBS Sports while at a speaking event in St. Louis, Freeman spoke approvingly of Notre Dame's lofty academic standards.

"I'm not saying from top to bottom," he said, "but the majority of our kids, they –I want to say this the right way – are pushed to learn, and their study habits are formulated every day. You can't cheat academics at Notre Dame."

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Freeman then mentioned Ohio State, where he was a star linebacker, and the University of Cincinnati, where he was defensive coordinator.

"You don't go to class (at places like that)?" Freeman said rhetorically. "OK, take some online classes, show up for your appointments. At Notre Dame, you're forced every day to go to class."

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Ohio State's reputation academically has improved since Freeman played for OSU from 2004-08. In the most recent NCAA  Academic Progress Rate report released Tuesday, Ohio State's football program had a perfect score of 1,000. APR measures eligibility, retention and graduation rates but not collective grade point average.

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Ohio State's multi-year score from 2017-21 of 992 ranked third in the Big Ten and tied for ninth nationally. Notre Dame's multi-year score was 984.

It's not the first time Freeman has made a comment perceived as disparaging toward the Buckeyes. In a piece last December in the Players' Tribune, after being named the Fighting Irish's coach, the Dayton native wrote about his decision as a high school recruit to sign with Ohio State over Notre Dame and noted it with regret.

"I just thank God that I didn’t make the wrong decision twice," he wrote of taking the Notre Dame job.

A few days later, Freeman addressed that comment in an opening statement at a news conference.

“I want to make sure to be very clear that the relationships, the time that I spent in Columbus have impacted me and the relationships I built will be with me for the rest of my life," Freeman said. "So, I’m very passionate about being a head coach here (at Notre Dame), but in no way did I want to diminish my time in Columbus and the impact that time had on me. I want to be clear on that.” 

Bill Rabinowitz covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at brabinowitz@dispatch.com or on Twitter @brdispatch.

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