As Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, Al Golden completes Marcus Freeman’s staff

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Marcus Freeman’s first coaching staff at Notre Dame is complete. Two days after he appeared in the Super Bowl, and more than two months after the job first opened, Freeman will hire Cincinnati Bengals linebackers coach Al Golden as the Irish defensive coordinator, per multiple Tuesday morning reports.

The Athletic’s Pete Sampson first reported Golden’s joining Freeman’s staff.

Golden spent the last two seasons with the Bengals, part of a coaching staff that turned a 4-11-1 team in 2020 into a Super Bowl participant this season. Before that, Golden spent four seasons with the Detroit Lions, his landing spot after being fired from Miami following the 2015 season.

Golden went 32-25 in 4.5 seasons leading the Hurricanes, highlighted by going 9-4 in 2013, though Miami did win the Coastal division in 2012 but went only 7-5 and was ineligible to appear in the ACC title game.

Golden left Temple to take over at Miami, his first head coaching job peaking with 9-4 and 8-4 showings in 2009 and 2010. When he became the Owls head coach, Golden was only 36, the same age as Freeman is now.

Golden’s background is as a linebackers coach, not only his role with the Bengals. His rise up the coaching ranks included stints coaching the linebackers at Boston College and Penn State (his alma mater) before becoming the defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2001 to 2005. Those Cavaliers ran a 3-4 defense, something Freeman dabbled in plenty last year, especially with rising junior Jordan Botelho as a hybrid defensive end/fourth linebacker.

Golden was once considered a candidate to join Charlie Weis’ debut staff in South Bend, but even that would not have been his first or most notable moment at Notre Dame. Then a junior, Golden caught a touchdown to tie No. 1 Notre Dame at 21 in the fourth quarter of an eventual 24-21 Penn State victory in 1990.

All nine other members of Freeman’s staff have been officially announced, and Golden should join them in that regard later this week or perhaps early next week.