Cincinnati did not waste much time moving on from departed defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, the Bearcats are expected to hire Michigan State safeties coach Mike Tressel.
The nephew of former Ohio State and Youngstown State coach Jim Tressel, Mike has been with the Spartans program for the past 14 years, serving under Mel Tucker in 2020 and Mark Dantonio from 2007-2019. From 2007-2014, he was the team's linebackers and special teams coach, moving then to co-defensive coordinator for three seasons (2015-17) and defensive coordinator for two seasons (2018-19).
Tressel has coached at Cincinnati for one other stint under Dantonio from 2004-06. When Tucker was hired a year ago to replace Dantonio, Tressel was kept on the staff and moved to safeties coach. Tressel, Tucker and Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell were all assistants under Jim Tressel at Ohio State in the early 2000s.
Freeman was lured away to Notre Dame earlier this month after Clark Lea took the head coaching vacancy at Vanderbilt. Under Freeman in 2020, Cincinnati ranked fourth nationally in defensive yards per play (4.57) and eighth nationally in scoring defense (16.8 points per game). With so many returning starters coming back in 2021, the Bearcats figure to be a preseason top-10 team with big games at Indiana (Sept. 18) and Notre Dame (Oct. 2).