Marcus Freeman brought Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to South Bend to wine, dine, and potentially swipe away from Kyle Whittingham. Ludwig was believed to be a primary target of Notre Dame in its recent search for an offensive coordinator, and Ludwig even showed up next to Freeman at a Notre Dame hockey game while on a visit to campus.

But last week it was reported that Ludwig would remain at Utah and that his buyout — believed to be north of $2 million — was a major deterrent in the process.

That news led many to hammer Notre Dame for its perceived reluctance to pay for a coordinator of Freeman’s choosing. On Monday, the second-year Notre Dame head coach met with reporters to address the hire he did make — elevating the team’s tight ends coach — and it turned into a defense of athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

“At no time during this process did I not have the support of Jack Swarbrick,” Freeman said. “He’s offered to pay whatever buyout there’s been.”

Freeman also said the reporting about Notre Dame’s reluctance to pay Ludwig’s buyout was not accurate. He used the phrase “misconception” on several occasions.

“That’s not the reason why somebody didn’t choose Notre Dame. Let’s make sure we get that out there,” Freeman said of the buyout. “Two individuals (also including Collin Klein) decided that it was best for them to stay where they were at. Much credit to them. … I just don’t want the narrative to be that somebody didn’t chose Notre Dame because of a buyout because it’s not true. That is not the truth.

Ludwig interviewed twice for the position. He spent time with Freeman and Swarbrick in a public setting without fear of being seen. According to reporting from The Athletic’s Pete Sampson throughout the week, Ludwig was a favorite of Freeman’s and Notre Dame simply chose not to pay.

Sampson reported that Notre Dame hoped Utah would be willing to negotiate on the buyout but the Utes wouldn’t budge.