Chat with Matt Fortuna
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna stops by to chat about the Fightin' Irish's football season.
Fortuna joined ESPN.com in 2011 after working for MLB.com and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, where he covered college sports. He grew up in New York and is a Penn State graduate.
Send your questions now and join Fortuna Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Matt (2:02 PM)
Greetings, everyone. One day before Senior Day, and I know you're all emotional. Some suggest chatting is the best medicine, so let's give it a go ...
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Bowl Game do you think that Notre Dame will Play in?
Matt (2:03 PM)
Chris, it's hard to see ND going anywhere but the Champs Sports Bowl. It's their only non-BCS tie-in, and it would take a minor miracle for the currently unranked Irish to jump into the top 14 in two weeks.
matt,give fans the name of a player on both sides of the ball who hasn't seen much/any time that will have a big impact next year. thanks
Matt (2:05 PM)
Tim, Austin Collinsworth has seen a lot of time on kick coverage and kick returns units, but I think he will compete for a starting spot next year and maybe even work his way into punt returns. He has expressed a desire to be there, and it's not like the Irish can't afford to try something new back there next season.
Josh (columbus, ohio)
Although Rees is still learning as a soph. Doesnt Coach Kelly has to pull him earlier than he did against Maryland, Navy and AF if the outcome of the game is in hand in the 2nd half? Id love to see Crist get some reps in his last home game and think Hendrix should see the field more as well when the games in hand.
Matt (2:08 PM)
Josh, I agree. I'm not sure what the benefit is of facing defenses like Maryland's and Navy's late in a blowout. Crist deserves some late reps if he wants them, and Hendrix needs to see more time as well. (He did get plenty of reps against AF, FWIW).
Hi Matt:great work! I appreciate the insights and the behind the scenes information.In your humble opinion what offensive and defensive players did Kelly redshirt that were good enought to play this year?Thanks!
Matt (2:11 PM)
Appreciate it, Tom. I think Everett Golson had the talent to play this year, but it's a smart move to redshirt him and continue to develop him behind the scenes, especially with three QBs ahead of him. Defensively is a tough call since so many have made an impact already, but I'm interested to see what Ben Councell can do.
John Anderson (Rochester, Michigan)
(1) Will MF3 be the first receiver taken in the NFL draft?(2) Will Te'o forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft?
Matt (2:13 PM)
John, Floyd has the talent to be the first WR taken, but I think ultimately Justin Blackmon will go higher, as NFL teams will still have questions about Floyd's off-field run-ins. If I'm Manti I'd leave, as he is projected as a mid-first round pick, but I'm not Manti. He's far less selfish. And I'm starting to think more and more that he may return.
Hi Matt...just so we don't have to look at the same question today...no on the bcs even if we beat stanford...and more than likely the champs sports bowl. Alright getting down to it...does notre dame make a bcs if they beat standford....oh wait...uh..i mean can we hopefully see andrew hendrix taking more than a handful of snaps with george the 3rd getting more reps as well on saturday regardless of score?
Matt (2:16 PM)
Aaron, I'm surprised we haven't seen more Hendrix lately. Same for Atkinson as well. I'm not sure how they will play into a potential blowout late tomorrow, as there are a lot of seniors who will probably get the call first.
Ryan (North Canton, Ohio)
As I look at our starters, there are many seniors. I was wondering what seniors have a fifth year of eligibility and will be back next year? By the way, you have been doing a great job covering ND this year!
Matt (2:20 PM)
Ryan, thanks. I think the only ones we can fairly confidently say will be back are Braxston Cave, Mike Golic Jr., Jamoris Slaughter and probably Kapron Lewis-Moore. The rest is really up in the air and will depend on a number of factors, most notably recruiting and Brian Kelly.
Ryan (North Canton, Ohio)
If ND beats BC and Stan, what do you think they will be ranked in the BCS??? I would say between 16-18...
Matt (2:21 PM)
Ryan, the wild guess here is 17 or 18, though it really depends on what else happens around the nation.
Mark (Lexington, KY)
Matt- Have we totally given up on punt returns? The entire opposing coverage team seems untouched.
Matt (2:23 PM)
Mark, given that it's Week 12 and there is still no answer back there, the best bet is to take the fair catch and avoid the turnover -- maybe see if Michael Floyd can make something happen should he be in position to return one. Beats the big risk of a turnover every time, which we all saw far too many times earlier in the season. Clearly this is an area that needs some improvement in the offseason.
Jake (Clinton, NC)
why is ND not ranked in the BCS? we have only been beaten by two teams (USF was fluke turnovers) and auburn has been blown out 4 times?
Matt (2:24 PM)
Jake, I can only say that I agree with you on Auburn, as I have not a clue why the Tigers are still ranked.
trevor dubuque iowa [via mobile]
with a seperated locker room and an under achieving team should coch kelly be on the hot seat ?
Matt (2:26 PM)
Trevor, if the locker room is separated then the players have done a good job fooling us on the field in three straight wins since BK's comments. No, Kelly should not be on the hot seat. There's an outside chance at a 10-win season, something the Irish haven't done in five years, in case you forgot.
Matt, A question I have about ND staying independent is what becomes of their bowl options. With the BCS in possible remodeling mode and almost all of the other bowls affiliating with conferences, it seems like the Irish may be stuck with either a Major Bowl or nothing.
Matt (2:28 PM)
Robb, they will never be stuck with nothing. They have their own special BCS rules now while not even in a conference. As our Gene Wojciechowski notes in today's story on potential BCS changes (http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7248953/bcs-proposes-only-handling-national-championship-game-sources-say), Jack Swarbrick is involved in discussions with the other 11 conference commissioners.
Adam (NE IA)
Matt, how far away is ND from being legit BCS caliber. What steps do they have to take to get there?
Matt (2:30 PM)
Adam, if we're talking about BCS-bowl caliber then not far at all, considering they may possibly finish just a game away this year. The key next year will be finding enough weapons in the receiving game and re-building their secondary.
I saw on Twitter where Fleming is quite the bowler. Bettis vs. Fleming head to head....who you got?
Matt (2:31 PM)
Patrick, I actually haven't heard that one. I'll go with Bettis.
Are there any rumblings or rumors that we could lose anyone from our coaching staff this off-season? Maybe Diaco?
Matt (2:32 PM)
Jason, I haven't heard anything and, quite frankly, I doubt it. Chuck Martin would be the most likely candidate to get a bump up somewhere else. Diaco may be a rising star, but he's only in his third year as a defensive coordinator. If he continues to do what he's doing, he'll hear from others soon enough.
Kevin (Fort. Campbell, KY)
Do you think Tommy Rees will be the starting QB next season?
Matt (2:33 PM)
If I'm a betting man I say he takes the first snap next season in Dublin. Beyond that, I really don't know.
Building on Mark from Lexingtons question...there is a severe lack of pressure getting to the punter, they don't even try, they'll run back there like they are trying to block then just give up...all of our punt returns are fair catches anyway so why not go for it
Matt (2:34 PM)
Aaron, they tried this at Pitt to overcompensate for no returns and it ended up in a roughing penalty and ruining very good field position in a close game. Pitt then marched the length of the field for a touchdown with a second chance.
Jeff Faine (Tampa, FL)
Aside from you being my twin...do you honestly think Wood and Gray have what it takes to be the first pair of 1,000 yard rushers after the bowl game? Also I want to shout out to Mike Golic Jr. for keeping the center position strong and stepping up!
Matt (2:36 PM)
Jeff, I just don't see it (the resemblance, that is). And yes, it will take some doing, but if Jonas continues producing the way he has the last couple of games, I think he'll break the 1,000-yard mark. Some senior renaissance, no?
I see Dayne starting the 2nd half this week, shredding BC, and reigniting the part of the fan base that thinks he should have been starting all year. Your thoughts?
Matt (2:38 PM)
Jason, I don't think it will play out exactly that way, though I hope (if he wants) that he gets some playing time beyond mop-up duty. He deserves better, and for his sake I hope he finds a good football school that will take him on next year, if that's what he wants. I have a hard time seeing the reasoning in him coming back, if they even invite him back.
Phil (Berne, IN)
Am I the only one who is in disbelief over the decision to continue to start Rees at QB? The kid has been a turnover machine and has only played well in games against Purdue, Air Force, and Maryland. He is no threat to stretch the field vertically at all. My question...is Andrew Hendrix not the future at QB? Does he not possess the tools to excel in Kelly's spread offense? If he does why is he still behind Rees? This has vexed me since last season really. All ND needs is a legitimate #1 QB...while Hendrix might not be that guy yet (he's certainly not developing on the bench), I hope we can all agree that Rees is not a true #1. On a national title contending team, a guy with his (Rees') tools is a solid third option. I'd love your thoughts...
Matt (2:40 PM)
Phil, I will give Rees the benefit of the doubt as a 19-year-old, but yes, he needs to improve if ND wants him to take the team to a national title, especially since he has limited-to-no mobility, something Hendrix possesses. As stated earlier, I am surprised we have not seen more Hendrix these last three weeks.
Matt, maybe ND doesn't end up with nothing in terms of bowl options in the future, but you look at this year and if it wasn't for the Champs Bowl the choices are pretty meager. Again, it just seems like the bowls are now going all conference tie-in.
Matt (2:42 PM)
Robb, if Notre Dame didn't have seven wins and wasn't eligible for the Champs, then it really wouldn't deserve a tie-in as a six-win team, though surely another bowl that could not fulfill its conference obligation would jump at the chance to bring ND and its fan base into town.
Why do you think Kelly pulled Dayne Crist after one half, but has stuck with turnover machine Rees all season? If ND had just mediocre QB play, they would've won the USF and UM games and maybe even USC.
Matt (2:46 PM)
Noonan, I've said all year that was a perplexing decision and Crist deserved better. That being said, think about what you just suggested. USF led 16-0 with Dayne Crist in. The Michigan game can be blamed on a number of reasons, most notably the fourth-quarter defense. And Crist fumbled away the Irish's chance at tying USC, a game they were only in position to be in because of George Atkinson.
Sure, ND might have options in the future, but with the BCS bowls potentially being allowed to strike their own contracts with conferences (like back in the pre-BCS days), where is ND going to play? It's not like the Big 10, SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, or ACC is going to let ND piggie back onto their bowl contracts without having ND in the conference. Then it's back down to piggie backing on the Big East's contracts, but as the Big East has no dedicated BCS bowl tie-in currently, I cannot imagine that, say, the Sugar Bowl is going to take one for the team and strike up a deal with the Big East. Basically, if we revert to the pre-BCS days, the Big East and (by proxy) ND will be left out in the cold...
Matt (2:49 PM)
Chris, we could have a long, friendly debate about this, but I think it favors Notre Dame and its current independence. A big reason for conference re-alignment has been to be a part of the haves, so schools can get those automatic bids. A lot of those automatic bids will likely be gone. ND is attractive to any and all bowls.
Is ND better this year than last? ND beat MSU at home, but other than that the wins have been against mediocre to poor teams. Borrrrrring.
Matt (2:50 PM)
Yes, this is a much better ND team. If you want to look at in a nutshell, look at last year's Navy game vs. this year's, which also happened to come in light of a potential team-dividing controversy.
Hey Matt, if that was Jeff Faine...former Irish center.....I do see the resemblance! I get the feeling this might be a trap game.....I think ND wins but closer than people think. Any thoughts on ND looking ahead to Stanford?
Matt (2:52 PM)
Still don't see it, ha. I don't think this is a trap game in the sense that ND may lose, but I do think a slow start is a very real possibility given the fact it's Senior Day and that BC is coming off a win, which it has not done much this season.
do you know that much about ND football? seems like you consistently misspell names and are a little off on your intel.
Matt (2:54 PM)
I've spelled Golson wrong before in a chat while typing quickly. If you can find more, by all means show me and I'll take responsibility for it. Also, you forgot to capitalize your first name.
Matt - As a long-time Irish fan I've wondered whether ND will ever return to national prominence, because ND's academic standards remain high (as they should) while those of many of the top ten teams are, shall we say, not as rigorous. (no names mentioned). Do you view Stanford's success this year as indicative of what ND could do?
Matt (2:56 PM)
Tim, I was having this discussion earlier in the week with a few colleagues. Stanford right now is doing what many expect Notre Dame to do every year in terms of winning consistently while maintaining high academic standards. That being said, the fan base and pressure in Palo Alto, Calif., is nothing compared to those of Notre Dame, which has to weigh on everyone involved in one way or another. There also aren't as many traditionalists who will get in an uproar at the mere suggestion of a changed game-day routine, Jumbotron, flashy helmet, etc.
Matt (2:57 PM)
Just enough time for a few more ...
Matt, the point of being in an AQ conference was that the 4 major bowls all agreed to a system of picking which teams would play in those bowls based on a pre-determined pool of a large amount of teams (6 conferences + ND). That was great for ND because they got special treatment. If (and, more likely, when) this system gets the ax, the 4 major bowls will revert to singular deals between single conferences, not a giant pool of conferences and teams. If ND is not in the individual conferences which strike the deals with the individual bowls, I don't see how this can possibly help the Irish. I'm wondering where you see the benefit for ND in this situation (not being passive-agressive, I'd just really like to hear your point of view).
Matt (3:00 PM)
Chris, I think if it comes to this, it will become more of a free-for-all. ND already can take away a Big East berth in the Champs Sports Bowl right now. I'd think it'd have no trouble working out other favorable deals with fewer tie-ins among conferences. I think bowls will care even more about traveling fans and TV ratings than they currently do, and that's only good for Notre Dame.
Rees can't bring this team to a BCS victory. Period. Especially once once we lose some of the offensive talent. I say Kelly goes "all-in" with Hendrix and Golson next year. It might be rough, but that should set up a potential NC run in 2013. Your thoughts?
Matt (3:02 PM)
Pete, I think that's unlikely given how much time and energy has been invested this year into Rees, who is only a sophomore. I do think it's an open competition for next year and would be shocked if we didn't see more than one QB at times, but I think it is Rees' job to lose.
Matt (3:03 PM)
All right folks, that's all from today. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next week (and ensuing turkey coma I will be in), there will be no chat next week. Thanks for following all season long.