LSU was thought to be close to naming Marcus Freeman its next defensive coordinator early Friday. The highly coveted defensive coordinator from Cincinnati has now been hired by Notre Dame.

Freeman, who recently interviewed for the LSU defensive coordinator, had been Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator since 2017.

The Bearcats (9-1) made national noise in 2020-21, entering bowl season as the No. 8-ranked team in the nation and winning the American Athletic Conference Championship, the program’s first outright league title since 2009, when Kelly served as Cincinnati’s head coach. Cincinnati made an appearance in the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl, falling by a narrow margin to No. 9 Georgia, after an undefeated regular season.

Cincinnati’s defense ranked in the Top 20 nationally in several categories for 2020-21, including being ranked 13th in total defense (324.6 yards per game) and eighth in scoring defense (16.8 points per game) among all FBS teams. In addition, the Bearcats were third in team passing efficiency defense (101.25), 14th in rushing defense (111.1 yards per game), 15th in red zone defense (0.735 rate), 17th in fourth down defense (0.375 rate), 16th in team sacks (3.0 per game) and 10th in turnovers gained (21).

Standout Bearcat cornerback Ahmad Gardner garnered multiple All-America selections, being named to the FWAA and USA TODAY first teams, in addition to the Associated Press, AFCA and The Athletic second teams. He was also named first-team All-AAC.

Prior to his 2020 success, Freeman has been part of a UC staff that coached the Bearcats to back-to-back 11-win seasons in 2018 and 2019, the 2019 American Athletic Conference East Division Championship and consecutive bowl-game wins in the 2018 Military Bowl and 2019 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl.

The Bearcats finished atop the 2019 AAC ranks in scoring defense for the second-straight season and ranked among the league’s top three in rushing and total defense. In 2018, Cincinnati led the American in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense and ranked among the Top-15 in the NCAA FBS in all three categories.

Prior to Cincinnati, Freeman spent four years at Purdue, where he coached linebackers all four seasons and served as the Boilermakers co-defensive coordinator in 2015.