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 Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Greetings, all. Apologies for the late start, let's get right to it.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What Happens in College Football when a Player Stomps on another Player such as Suh who stomped on the Green Bay Packers Players on Thanksgiving?
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
Chris, in college it's more of a common practice for the college team to take initiative and self-discipline its player before its conference does. I don't think the punishment would be as harsh, however, given Suh has a history of questionable on-field behavior.
Jim Healey (Sandpoint, Idaho)
As you look back on this past Notre Dame season, what has been the biggest surprise about the team? The biggest disappointment?Thanks for doing such a good job covering Notre Dame football! Keep up the good work!Jim
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
Thanks, Jim. I think one area covers both of those categories: turnovers. Specifically, the first two weeks. Ten giveaways and two losses in a a pair of games they should have won. Ultimately, that's what doomed this team.
Sean Murphy (Pearl River, NY)
Could Irish fans view Andrew Hendrix as the Qb of the future or will we be seeing Tommy Reese start the bowl game?
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
Sean, I'm sure many Irish fans already see it that way. Who starts the bowl is up in the air right now, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to make it an audition for next year.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
This isn't really a ND question, but what are your thoughts of Alabama playing for the title? I know they "look" like one of the two best teams, but other than Arkansas, who have they beat this year that is any good? They scheduled North Texas, Georgia Southern and Kent St. If Oklahoma St. beats Oklahoma, I think they need to play for the title, their resume is every bit as good as Alabamas. Thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
Cory, in principle I'm against a rematch. That being said, I really don't see another option to one this year. I'm also a defensive fan who thought 9-6 was a thing of beauty, though I really think LSU should not have to prove anything to anyone anymore.
How would you rate the job Kelly has done at ND to this point?Also Matt we have a 2012 schedule that looks ruff. IYO, how many wins will BK need next year to keep his job ?
Matt Fortuna (2:26 PM)
Rich, I'd give him a B-. The results obviously aren't where everyone wants them to be, but I think he's done a nice job of stabilizing the lines on each side, something that you need to have in a program and something that you didn't quite see in previous regimes. I also think winning eight games in back to back seasons is not the end of the world; only a handful of ND coaches have done that, and, sad as this may be to hear for some ND fans, is better than average in recent years.
Do you fell like BK has lied about who is #2 QB is all season because he has said time and time again it was Dayne or that he has lied about always saying Atkinson will see more time in the backfield and never getting any real time back there even when Gray went down?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
I wouldn't say lie. Dayne was the first man in against USC, and I think at Stanford, in the last regular season game of the year and likely last ever one for Crist in a Notre Dame uniform, it wouldn't have done either side much good for him to go in there. I also think the Atkinson thing is a matter of circumstance, as Gray was only gone for one game and Theo Riddick was finally healthy and received some carries as well.
Matt,I feel like a lot of ND fans are upset about this year but don't you think there's enough positives to build for next year including if we were to win the bowl game? I.e., the best tight end in the country, one of the best receivers and middle linebackers in the country. I'm not worried about the schedule next year as long as our d-line continues to improve and we have a mobile qb that can run Kelly's system, it will help with our lack of a heightened receiver until one proves themself. What do you think? Besides ND coaches are forever graded and judged (order pending) by the infamous "Third Year."
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Chris, that philosophy certainly didn't work this year after the Irish finished last season 4-0, with a big win in their bowl game. Tyler Eifert coming back is not set in stone. I'm not sure who you're talking about at receiver, as Michael Floyd is gone. And Manti Te'o coming back is far from a lock as well. The D-line will certainly be the strength of the defense, but the schedule is pretty brutal. And who knows about the QB situation, as that is far from resolved 12 games into 2011.
Are you still picking Rees as your starter for next season?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
In one-word, yes. I think he'll take the first snap of the first game of next season. Beyond that is anybody's guess.
Is Hendrix really have running speed? It looks like he wasn't all that quick. He's definitely more mobile than Crist or Rees, but 99% of SN chatters are more mobile than Crist or Rees. That said, Hendrix's arm is a heck of a lot stronger - he just needs to learn touch (and decision making).
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
Hendrix is not only quick, but, as you saw, huge. He can run you over just as easily as he can run around you. Of course, you have to be smart with that as a quarterback. And yes, while he may not possess the football IQ a Tommy Rees does (few do, considering his background), his arm strength is very impressive.
I was impressed with Andrew Hendrix's play at times but like he's been quoted as saying, he needs to be more "consistent." I'm a fan of Tommy Rees, heck I'm a fan of any ND quarterback by the simple fact that I want to see them succeed. If you've seen Golson or Hendrix practice or play this season and one of them were to start next season, who do you think that would be?
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Chris, I have not seen Golson play yet. While I'm sure there are plans for him next season, I don't think he would jump everyone ahead of him and start the season opener.
Who do you think starts at QB for the bowl game, Hendrixs or Rees?
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
Gun to my head, I say Hendrix, though it won't be easy for Kelly to simply pull Rees after 15 starts.
Sir, I have been reading your articles on the upperclassmen staying or going. Very good. What about Te'o and Eifert? What are your thoughts on them? Also is Crist 100% gone?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Thanks, Nick. I didn't do those two because they are juniors who can come back on their own with no problem. My gut tells me both will be back, though if I were in their shoes those NFL millions would surely be tempting. I don't see a way Crist comes back, though that's something that should benefit both sides.
Hi Matt - Thanks for all your hard work this season. Regardless of the bowl game outcome, how do you compare the 2011 season with 2010? Step forward, backward, or about the same?
Matt Fortuna (2:43 PM)
Brian, close to the same. Same wins, more quarterbacks, more games they lost that they had no business losing. Like I said before, there does seem to be the start of something big in the trenches, and that's something to build off. And clearly last season had its bad off-the-field moments, automatically making that one worse than this year. But until the Irish start winning all of the games they're supposed to, and until they come out ready and not flat against marquee opponents (and USF), progress will be harder to make.
next year's schedule seems to start off easier...maybe the Irish can get off to a better start?
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
It doesn't get much easier than South Florida, Ikmetmah, and we saw how that turned out.
Where do you think BK is at with the qb situation as of right now and going into the bowl game? Is there any chance Golsen gets into the mix in the offseason and next year to make it a three way battle for starter? Do you see anyone transfering if they lose out?thanks
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Chris, I think Golson definitely has a shot to play a lot, yes. I don't think ND will stick with just one quarterback next year, either. As for the transfer situation, that's an interesting scenario. It seems as if there are more and more these days in college football, be it from parents' orders or kids who feel they were lied to or not given a fair shot by their coaches. I think we'll have to wait and see how things shape up before we know more in that department.
Can we now say the Tommy Rees era is officially over? Seems like Hendrix, and maybe Golson are the true fit to a Kelly system
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Tom, I think the other two are probably more ideal QBs in BK's system, but I have a hard time believing 15 games with Rees will disappear just like that. He'll get a fair shot, I'd imagine.
Y are there so many ND haters. second question should ND just give in break the rules and deal with the punishment on the back end. I ask this cause it seems that the NCAA has done so little. Look at USC and OSU neither of those programs have or will serve a penalty that outweights the gains they have gotten over the past decade.
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
USC may have cost itself a BCS-bowl berth this season, and the scholarship limits will hurt moving forward. OSU was bad this season but was lucky enough that Urban Meyer happened to be unemployed at the same time.
Matt (Springfield Mo )
Do you think Brian Kelly was being stubborn by not brining back Dayne Crist after Reese struggles so much in the past two games?
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Matt, not the last past two games. I don't see any good bringing Crist in this late in the season could have done. Earlier this season? Yes.
Molly (Des Moines, IA)
Great job this year Matt, I've enjoyed your blogs and chats! so...ND ends the season as it began with a bit of QB controversy. Who do you think will start for the bowl game? Also...do you agree with others who think we'll likely play Florida State?
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Thanks, Molly. I'd put my money on Hendrix. I don't think ND has much to lose in the Champs Sports Bowl. And I'm going with Clemson, provided they lose to VT tomorrow. The Chick-fil-a Bowl, which has second pick of ACC schools, may take Auburn, which already played Clemson this year and which plays Clemson again next year in Atlanta. I highly doubt the bowl would want a third matchup between these two teams in less than a year, leaving the Tigers to fall to the next-best ACC spot, the Champs Sports Bowl.
Thomas Woodburn (Washington DC)
do you think if the BCS decides to focus on the national championship and ditch the other bowls, ND wold never need to join a conference? Personally i'm still split on if they should.
Matt Fortuna (2:57 PM)
Thomas, I think that would certainly help them. Having the bowls as a free-for-all would stand to benefit big brands like ND and many Big Ten schools, which would have less hoops to jump through for bowls to attain them.
Matt, keep up the good work. It seems as though the Notre Dame coaching job is turning into the Lord Of The Rings. Everybody sees the new incoming coaches as "perfect" for the job, but the Ring(Notre Dame Football) turns a good coach insane and they all turn from Smeagle to Gollum. Thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
Aaron, I have actually never seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies, so I really can't answer that.
Rick Doyle (Dublin, OH)
If Manti and Eifert both stay for another season and we get this QB situation figured out and hopefully go with Hendrix or Golson IMO. What are your expectations for this team in 2012 looking at a tough schedule? I think with a QB like Hendrix this team could be very dangerous next year.
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Rick, I wouldn't get too optimistic. Eight or nine wins would be huge. At Oklahoma and at USC are brutal, Miami and Michigan will only be better and Sparty almost always plays them tough. And that's all assuming ND wins the games it will be favored in, against Pitt, BC, Wake, etc. That's something that hasn't happened in several years, and I don't see why I should believe it will change until I see differently.
Hey Matt, what is your general thought on the uni's, helmets, piped in music, etc. this season? Do you like mixing up things or should ND stick with tradition a little more??
Matt Fortuna (3:05 PM)
John, I think none of it ultimately matters if you win football games. Since that didn't exactly go according to plan ... I like the shiny new helmets but think all of the throwback ones are gimmicky -- ND is one of a handful of schools in the country where anyone can identify them by their helmet, so I don't see a need to have so many different and shiny ones. The piped in music felt way too forced against USC, especially with Ozzy, but I think ND learned from that one and had fun with it the rest of the home games. I don't mind change in general, though there are certainly roadblocks to overcome anytime you do it with a brand as storied as ND's.
True or False: Dayne Crist transfers to a D1 school has a big time 5th year and gets picked up on by an NFL team the following year.
Matt Fortuna (3:06 PM)
Closer to true than false, health (knock on wood) permitting.
Hi Matt. Could you give a prediction on ND's record for next year? I think we could be looking at a 7-5 season or worse. At Oklahoma, at USC, at Michigan St, and Home against Stanford all look like losses and we still need to get past Michigan, Miami and Pitt.
Matt Fortuna (3:08 PM)
7-5 sounds about right at the moment.
After all the bumps in the road this season, could we be seeing ND in a BCS bowl next season? National Championship?
Matt Fortuna (3:09 PM)
If that happens then you'll be invited to my wedding with Halle Berry.
Mike (Ann Arbor)
Did Brian Kelly make the right decision putting Hendrix in during the Stanford? (Discounting the final drive when the Stanford defense was hardly out there)
Matt Fortuna (3:10 PM)
Mike, I think so. He needed some more action, Rees was banged up and the offense wasn't moving, and clearly the unit was better in the second half. I'm sure it's frustrating to be in the same boat as the beginning of the season -- with an unresolved QB situation -- but having Hendrix emerge can only be a good thing.
Matt (Hermitage PA)
Matt, if the Penn State blog opened up or started -- would we lose you?
Matt Fortuna (3:12 PM)
Matt, I'd hope not. ND offers the media much better access and has a far nicer press box. And all of this was before recent events in State College.
Cory (Geneva, IL)
Wait, you've never seen or read any of "The Lord of the Rings" books? Really?
Matt Fortuna (3:13 PM)
Is Jonas Gray's injury going to hurt his potential draft stock in this year's NFL draft? I felt like the season he had must've gotten the attention of a lot of scouts and clearly put him on their radar.
Matt Fortuna (3:16 PM)
Jeremy, that's about as sad and as bad an injury as you can see -- a SR in his final home game blowing out his knee after watching it all come together. It certainly won't help, as his status for the Combine likely won't be good. Here's hoping some NFL teams take notice and either scoop him up late or sign him after the draft.
Matt Fortuna (3:16 PM)
All right, folks. That's all from me. Thanks for stopping by.