Marcus Freeman's impact could go beyond football
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. --- Notre Dame Football Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman could become the second African-American head coach in 133 years of Fighting Irish Football selected to replace Brian Kelly, and fans along with a local activist ABC57 spoke with said the significance could go well beyond the field.
“I support these efforts and I think that they’re important for that university and for the community at large,” said Paul Mishler, a local activist with Michiana Alliance and a Professor at Indiana University South Bend.
“I’ve known Notre Dame for quite some time I want to say since I was young and I don’t recall ever the last time a black coach was there so for something like this to happen would be rather interesting,” added Notre Dame fan Lester Salamba.
If named the next Notre Dame Head Football Coach, Freeman would be the second black head coach in the program's past after Tyrone Willingham made history as the first back in 2002.
A move Mishler believes would not only be significant for the university, but for the city.
“Notre Dame football is very important in South Bend, it’s important culturally, it’s important financially,” said Mishler. “It speaks to the kind of cultural power of Notre Dame which I think it’s unrealized in terms of what they can do in terms of making the multi-racial nature of the community more positive for everybody.”
Mishler was among fans who also supported the potential move, which they believe could help promote more diversity in athletics and on campus.
“I’d say it would be a step forward simply because being the second and I don’t know exactly how many coaches were there before or previously now that you’re adding another black coach within that mix...” said Salamba.
“Yeah, that’s awesome, it would be pretty historic, especially in the head coach position,” added Sebastian Wozniak a Notre Dame Student and football fan.
If Freeman is named head coach Mishler added he hopes that he can make a true difference on and off the field.
“This could be for Notre Dame for the community here a real step forward. He could become somebody that says we stand behind these struggles for justice and he could say look at you may have white coaches who didn’t think this was important but I’m not a white coat and as a person this is important to me.”
Now ABC57 did reach out to the University of Notre Dame but they did not want to comment on the potential move just yet.