Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman says he was misquoted in comments about about Ohio State

Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch

Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman said Wednesday that he was misquoted in remarks construed as critical of academics at Ohio State, his alma mater.

The Fighting Irish and Buckeyes open the 2022 season Sept. 3 in Columbus.

Speaking on 97.1 The Fan with former Buckeye teammates Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel, Freeman said he did not disparage Ohio State in comments he made to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd at a speaking event to Notre Dame boosters in St. Louis.

In the CBS Sports story, Freeman compares academics at Notre Dame with those at OSU and Cincinnati, where he was the Bearcats' defensive coordinator. 

"You don't go to class (at places like that)?" Freeman was quoted as saying rhetorically in the CBS Sports story. "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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Wednesday, Freeman said he used the comparison only to contrast Notre Dame's limited capacity to have online classes as a much smaller school than Ohio State or UC.

"I wanted to set the record straight in that I was misquoted by Dennis Dodd in this article, and key words and context were missing from the quote that upset a lot of people that I care about," Freeman said. "I'm very proud of my two degrees from Ohio State.  I would never discredit the quality of education those degrees represented."

He said the CBS Sports story left out the word "if" at the beginning of the sentence referring to attending class. CBS Sports has subsequently changed its story to add the word to the quote.

"When you see a quote that says Marcus Freeman says, 'You don't go to class a place like that,' that changes the entire narrative, right?"

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He said he was making the point that Notre Dame, with an enrollment of about 8,500, didn't even offer online classes until COVID. Even now, he said, such classes are more limited than at large public universities such as OSU or UC.

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He said he didn't believe he'd said anything inflammatory in the CBS Sports story until James Laurinaitis, his former OSU teammate now on the Notre Dame coaching staff, told him Tuesday about the stir on social media.

"I would never disrespect Ohio State," Freeman told Carpenter and Schlegel. "I would never say you don't go to class. I went to class. I'm sure you did. We made sure we went to class. I would never say that and never disrespect my alma mater."

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Marcus Freeman has made comments about Ohio State in the past

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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