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 (1:59 PM)
Welcome aboard, all, and Happy Friday. Busy week in the Notre Dame world, so let's get started.
colby price jonesboro ar [via mobile]
will notre dame ever join big ten or any other conference?
Matt Fortuna (2:02 PM)
Colby, I don't see that happening anytime soon, especially not the Big Ten. The forthcoming BCS changes, whatever they may be (I refuse to play the P-O substitute for "playoff") could end up benefiting the Irish, who could be free to negotiate their own bowl contracts.
Don Evans (malone,fla)
When will N.D. start playing better schedules ot be taken 4 real
Matt Fortuna (2:04 PM)
Don, have you even checked next year's slate? At Oklahoma and USC, two likely preseason top-5 teams. At MSU, a potential top-10 team. Home against Michigan, another potential top-10 team. Not to mention ND plays few, if any, FCS cupcakes early on to fill its schedule. If there's one thing the Irish can't be criticized for, it's their schedule year after year.
Matt,Why is it when a young man like D. Neal waits to sign & then signs with ND do all the haters and others come out and slam
Matt Fortuna (2:10 PM)
BW, Neal was going to get plenty of heat regardless of where he signed. I don't know the full circumstances of the kid's situation so I'm not going to slam him or speculate, but anytime a top recruit waits until after the pack on national signing day to announce his choice he will get some heat for trying to stand out and draw more attention. Add in the fact that he was a no-show without notice to anyone for his morning announcement Tuesday -- and that 600 elementary school kids were pulled out of class for virtually no reason -- and the kid is going to take some criticism, regardless of where he ends up. In the time between his scheduled announcement and actual one, several ND fans had said they didn't even want him anymore because of the circus.
Casey (South Bend, IN)
Hi MattJust wondering what the advantages would be, if any, for "redshirting" Kiel this season?
Matt Fortuna (2:15 PM)
Casey, if multiple guys prove they are more game-ready than Kiel, then what would be the point of playing him just a little bit? The kid's clearly talented, and you'd like to maximize the potential amount of time he could play. Better to have the possibility of four strong years after he learns the offense and playbook on the sideline this year than only three more years after a handful of meaningless snaps.
Read the news that Hawaii and ND were trying to get a game on the island for December 1st but it fell through. Any chance this might still happen? It would be great for T'eo and Toma and the 13th game would make getting 10 or 11 wins a bit easier.
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
HammerCro, it doesn't sound like it's in the works anymore, though that would've been fun (for us scribes, too).
Both my football teams (ND, Colts) have big decisions to make about the QB position this off-season. I can't take it anymore! But if you had to make either decision, which one would be harder to make? Luck v. Manning, or Rees v. Golson v. Hendrix v. Kiel
Matt Fortuna (2:23 PM)
From a PR standpoint, the Colts' may be a more difficult situation, given all that Manning has meant to the city. That being said, from a football standpoint it's an easy one for me. No one knows for sure what the status of Peyton is physically, and a once-in-a-generation prospect is available for the taking. If you're in re-building mode, why not? Notre Dame's is much more complicated, since it's twice as many people and we really have no idea what three of them are capable of.
By the time this question airs it will have been answered I'm sure but, davonte neal...what position?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Aaron, I think he can make the biggest impact early on returns, especially since the Irish were atrocious in returning punts last season. I could see him on either side of the ball, though the depleted secondary may provide him an early opportunity to play there.
Mike Brey, Coach of the Year??
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
Easily Big East, provided South Florida doesn't make a nice run at the end here. Probably nationally, too.
Matt, I've been an Irish fan since I was young and I feel Coach Kelly has the program positioned to be a contender. Outside of the question at quarterback right now, do you see an offense that is more talented than the Irish will be this Fall?
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Evan, I'm not sure I do. Quarterback aside, how do you expect to get better when you lose possibly the greatest WR in school history? Tyler Eifert won't sneak up on anyone again, either. And we don't what's behind Cierre Wood yet. Then again, if this team does a much better job of protecting the ball than last year's, it could have more success.
Mike (Ann Arbor)
Hoke is putting a major axx kicking on Kelly for next year's recruiting class? Looks like all the major Midwest talent is already locked up between Hoke and Meyer. Anyway Kelly comes back?
Matt Fortuna (2:33 PM)
No, Mike, Kelly is not already guaranteed to be fired at the end of a 2012 season that hasn't even begun yet.
Josh (columbus, ohio)
To Don: who has a tougher schedule year in and year out?
Matt Fortuna (2:34 PM)
Good question. The SEC teams mayyyy play a tougher slate, but they also feats on nonconference cupcakes, a luxury ND doesn't have.
Austin (South Bend)
Who do you see as being the go-to outside receiver next season? I have no faith in goodman. jones is more of a slot. Daniel Smith? Davaris Daniels?
Matt Fortuna (2:36 PM)
Austin, I think Goodman is capable of having a strong year, but I don't know if that would make him a "go-to" guy. I see Jones similarly to you. Daniels is a guy with loads of talent, and Justin Ferguson is a guy who could earn plenty of early playing time.
A Philly From (Philly)
What do you think about the kick off being on the 35 now? And what exactly was the point?
Matt Fortuna (2:38 PM)
Philly, it's all about safety. More touchbacks = less returns = less hits.
Matt --- I'm one of those people who think Brian Kelly has done a really good job so far as Irish coach, except for his puzzling decision to stick with Tommy Reece.. which i think will change this year. Kelly, in terms of recruiting has been great. We have legit athletes.. something that has been missing since the Holtz days. What are your thoughts as Kelly and the Irish move forward?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Daz, I pretty much agree with you. He's had some missteps -- namely, the QB situation last year and his comments about Weis' guys -- but he's stressed defense a lot more and has done a good job establishing the foundation.
Darren (Peoria, IL)
If you could only take one, between Davonte Neal and Deontay Greeberry. who are you takin?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
There's no right answer here (at least that we know of yet), but I say Greenberry given the circumstances. Any coach will tell you losses hurt more than wins feel great, and losing a top recruit at a position of need to a school like Houston at the last minute stings.
Jack Rardon (Indianapolis, IN)
I know that Notre Dame is not the hot spot for recruits that it used to be. I am wondering what steps you think that Notre Dame has to take to become attractive to todays recruits? I know Brian Kelly has had some ideas like more alternative jerseys and night games.
Matt Fortuna (2:45 PM)
Jack, WIN! They pull in top classes every year despite consistent mediocrity. If you're going to pitch yourself to some of the top recruits in the country as a BCS-bowl team, getting there when you have the chance makes hauling those kids in much easier.
Brian (Huntington Beach, CA)
Matt,I think our first year under Kelly was a learning curve and in our second year we beat ourselves in most of the games we lost. If we clean up turnovers and have steady play at QB how good can we be this year?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Brian, that remains to be seen with the schedule this year. Last year's team could have made a BCS game if not for the turnovers. This year's may not have the same talent offensively but may be able to overcome that with smarter play.
Chandler (Salt Lake City)
Davonte Neal is only 5'9". Do you foresee someone that size being a game changer at the WR position?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Not ideal, but not like it can't happen. There's a guy catching balls in the NFL right now named Wes Welker who's 5-9 and not too bad.
Bryan (Jacksonville FL)
What 2012 recruit will have the biggest instant impact this season?
Matt Fortuna (2:51 PM)
Bryan, you tell me: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/5070/poll-which-frosh-will-have-quickest-impact ... I'm interested to see fans' response to this one, and will have a post up next week with the results.
Have you heard anything new on former Michigan commit, CB Anthony Standifer? Last I heard he was all about ND but needed to take care of some things in order to attend.
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
Last I heard there was a hold-up with his Spanish classes.
When is ND's Junior Day scheduled?
Matt Fortuna (2:56 PM)
March 3 and 24
Matt -- I know recently there has been several questions asked regarding ND struggles and blamming it on their tough academic standards, and you said, "just look at Stanford!" What about Stanford? They had a great QB for a couple years, thats why they were good. They dont have the athletes to compete at the highest level. Notre Dame's high academic standards have alot to do with the programs struggles over the past 15 years. Period. It's no secret. Thats why Saban, Spurrier, Meyer wouldn't want any part of the ND coaching job. There are numerous players on Florida, LSU etc that couldnt even get into ND if they tried. You said that ND fans that bring up this topic are just bitter. Ah no, we are just speaking the truth. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (3:03 PM)
Yes, Notre Dame has higher academic standards and that's another challenge to overcome. No, that's not an excuse for years of mediocrity. Again, since you asked: Stanford had back-to-back one-loss regular seasons. Last I checked, Andrew Luck wasn't a part of the defense that forced ND to switch quarterbacks in their game this year. And he's not on the offensive line that gives him an eternity to throw. And he's not 6-foot-8 and catching his own passes while being guarded by guys almost a foot shorter than him, as Stanford's tight ends were against ND this year. And he's not even the first Heisman runner-up from Stanford -- that was Toby Gerhart, who also beat Notre Dame. Even if, as you said "they just had a great QB," what's your point? That's largely how Auburn won the national title in 2010 -- because they had a great QB. Look, it's admirable that Notre Dame has tougher academic standards for its football players than others, and it surely makes things more difficult. But to say they'll never return to their glory days because of it is nothing but an excuse. It can be done, it's just that much more difficult.
Hurricane Jeff (Byesville, OH)
Hey Matt, Hurricane here. Even though Notre Dame isn't expected to be great this year, could you see them possibly breaking out and winning ten games simply because Kelly is getting his kind of talent in there and the Weis guys are starting to fade away?
Matt Fortuna (3:06 PM)
Jeff, it will be very difficult against this schedule, even if the offense makes great strides. And I'd be careful about the distinction between each coach's guys. Manti Te'o is a "Weis" guy; he's turned out OK, no? If they can protect the ball and start to move forward at the QB position, they can have a strong season and be really primed for a run in 2013.
Matt Fortuna (3:06 PM)
That's all from me today guys. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the weekend and the rest of February (man, time flies.)