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 (2:01 PM)
Welcome aboard, all, and Happy Memorial Day weekend. Thanks for putting the weekend plans on hold for a few to talk Notre Dame football. Anyone here planning on catching the men's lax team in the Final Four tomorrow? Here's my advance on that, featuring goalie John Kemp: http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/7968802/notre-dame-goalie-john-kemp-keeps-cool-amid-chaos-ncaa-men-lacrosse-tournament
Matt Fortuna (2:02 PM)
Enough with the self-promotion, though. Let's get to the questions ...
Hey Matt what do you think the roles of George Atkinson III and Davonte Neal will be this upcoming season for the irish
Matt Fortuna (2:05 PM)
Hey Derek. I think both of those guys will mostly make their marks on special teams. Atkinson will likely return kickoffs again after his great debut last year, and I wouldn't be surprised if he returned some punts as well. He'll get somme carries out of the backfield but touches are going to be hard to come by with the depth there. I think punt returns could be the quickest way for Davonte Neal to get on the field as well.
Brad Ward (Edmond, OK)
I honestly believe Notre Dame has the ability and assests this October to beat OU in Norman. OU's secondary can easily be beaten by quick 10-15 out and post routes (as demonstrated by OK ST) and Notre Dame's defense is going to be a force to reckon with, Teo. Can they win this Fall?
Matt Fortuna (2:07 PM)
Not to go with the cliche "anything can happen," but it's not like we can say for certain they'll lose yet, either. That game's a long ways away, and both teams have a lot to get through before then. But ND won't have a chance going your method if it still doesn't have its QB issue fixed.
Ryan (North Canton, Ohio)
If teams zone in on Eifert like they did on Floyd last year, do you feel like we could have big problems on offense? I remember the Pitt game last year and how they took Floyd out of the game and the offense was very poor.
Matt Fortuna (2:09 PM)
... and then Eifer stepped up at the end! I see what you mean, but I think that was just a really bad day by everyone on offense moreso than the unit freaking out when Floyd was neutralized. Goodman, Daniels and Jones should all be capable of stepping up, as should the TE batch. The question, as always, is if the QB will be good enough.
Joe (Raleigh NC)
With 2 solid 8-5 seasons, why does everyone seem to be so pessimistic regarding Coach Kelly? Yeah, there are things that needs to improve such as turnovers, but again why does everyone have to be so negative.
Matt Fortuna (2:11 PM)
For one, fan bases take on a dark mood when their teams struggle for so long. (Trust me, I grew up a Knicks fan.) To be more specific: The general feeling was last year's team had BCS potential and probably should have gone 10-2 or 11-1. Couple that with some big recruiting losses, a key transfer and a daunting 2012 schedule -- not to mention no QB answer -- and it's tough for many to see a big breakthrough in the near future.
Hey Matt, here is my two cents on the whole issue with conferences shuffling. I think it is a joke that teams like Florida State or Clemson are thinking about leaving the ACC. If they leave then that kills the ACC Conference. For one if they want to earn more revenue through the conference tv deals, they should improve their product on the field. If your team is not living up to the expectations that everyone is use to seeing then the revenue that they are expected to earn will be lowering than Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, USC or etc. I would rather see Florida State play Oklahoma or Texas as a non-conference opponent than seeing them play each other within a conference. It?s like the presidents and the athletic departments of the colleges/universities are putting emphasis on money first over the student athlete. Do you see end to all this conference shuffling at some point?
Matt Fortuna (2:12 PM)
You kind of answered all of those questions for me, Krystal. Pretty much spot on with how I feel. And just when you think all is quiet on the realignment front, a new deal comes out of nowhere and changes everything.
Kevin (Quad Cities)
You expressed that you didn't see what OSU or Urban Meyer did wrong. I saw last year or a couple of years ago that Urban was apart of a panel discussion on the rights and wrongs that occur during the recruiting process in which I'm pretty sure that he said something about contact periods for head coaches and recruits. What I am saying is that he knew that he broke the rules. Also what do you think about the Ipad stink that is going on at tOSU.
Matt Fortuna (2:16 PM)
Kevin, I suppose I should've said, outside of Gene Smith's video, I didn't see that big of a deal. And responding to a recruit with a "Good Luck" before a game is hardly "contact," in my humble opinion. As for the iPad thing, can't see how that doesn't help recruiting. And I'm wondering what similar programs will do to top that now.
Is there a realistic chance of Tommy Rees transferring before practice resumes?
Matt Fortuna (2:18 PM)
Colin, I haven't heard anything of the sort, so I would highly doubt it now, though there's a lot to be played out on that front still with both the legal system's and team's disciplinary process.
Joe (Indianapolis, IN)
Matt, Ia??m convinced you have the greatest job in the world; getting paid to cover Irish football. My question is this, why havena??t we heard more about Amir Carlisle in the backfield? I know he has the broken ankle and wona??t be ready till June, but if the recovery goes wella?¦ how many carries a game do you see him getting? We are deep at RB, but he obviously has a lot of talent.
Matt Fortuna (2:20 PM)
I tell myself that every day, Joe. As for your question, there's just not a whole lot to gather right now. We didn't see him this spring, he put up pretty good numbers for a freshman last year and there's a lot of talent ahead of him right now. I'd guess we see him mostly on special teams this year.
John (Cincinnati, OH)
Matt, no BS political answer: Golson or Hendrix? I am of the camp that there is no way Rees starts and Gunner gets redshirted.
Matt Fortuna (2:21 PM)
I cover sports so I don't have to deal with politics, John. If Game 1 were tomorrow, I'd say Hendrix given his experience. I think Golson has what it takes to surpass him come preseason camp, however.
Dan (Elgin, Illinois)
With all the off-season incidents finally behind us (transfers, underage drinking and arrests), which incident do you think was most impactful on the Irish? Losing Aaron Lynch was devastating, but perhaps Tommy Rees' arrest gives some direction to the quarterback race. Your thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM)
Dan, Aaron Lynch is the only who is definitely not coming back -- and probably the only first-round talent -- so the answers is clearly him. And don't ever say off-season incidents are finally behind. There's a never a dull moment with this team (or any big college program, for that matter.)
Craiger (Joplin, Missouri)
Admittedly, I am not a fan of Brian Kelly, far from it. What will it take to make this Kelly's last year on the Irish's sideline?
Matt Fortuna (2:27 PM)
Tell us how you really feel, Craiger. It would take a sub-.500 season and multiple off-field mishaps, be it several slips of the tongue or player arrests. And even then he probably gets at least another year given the schedule strength this year and the fact he was just signed to an extension. I don't think ND is looking to pay another coach millions years after he's gone, the way they are now with Charlie Weis.
Kelly Lenek (Sexsmith Alberta Canada)
I've been a subway alum for 40 years and needless to say I am waiting for return to the glory years when Lou Holtz was coaching. I don't see another 8 and 5 year as progress. What do you think is the mindset of the administration is?
Matt Fortuna (2:30 PM)
Kelly, I think 8-5, depending on who the wins and losses are against, could be a good season given all of the circumstances surrounding it. ND can't afford to take a step back in year 3. I think the admin is of a similar mindset to you.
Matt,Thanks for doing these, I really like reading them whenever I get the chance. My question is in reference to the CB depth and Cam McDaniel moving there from RB: My question is, why him? I understand that he is a great athlete and they need depth, but what about the awesome numbers he put up in a HUGE high school football state? I would think the coaching staff could find somebody else to fill the CB depth chart and give McDaniel a chance at RB. I was really looking forward to seeing him run the ball.Thanks,Die-Hard Irish Fan
Matt Fortuna (2:35 PM)
Appreciate that, JP. I think it eventually comes a to a numbers game, and there were too many proven people ahead of him at RB. It is also an easier way for him to get on the field, as he is clearly talented and there are plenty of questions in the secondary.
Jeremy (Bloomington, Indiana)
It seems to me the ACC sees the Irish as a means of survival, while the Big XII is interested in increasing their bottomline with Notre Dame's television appeal. While the same thing could be said about the Big Ten, I feel it is clear that that conference appreciates Notre Dame's history. If the Irish decide to join a conference, which one do you feel is the best fit?
Matt Fortuna (2:39 PM)
I agree with you about halfway there, Jeremy. Let's not forget that Jack Swarbrick and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds talk often. And the conversations Dodds mentioned to CBSSports.com were about ND's Olympic sports, so it's not like the Irish football team would be playing more than maybe three Big 12 games a year. It's tough to say right now. Obviously the Big 12 looks more stable, but it's hard to see a move there not severely hurting ND's other sports, especially basketball. Not to mention that ND would always lose being the biggest voice in the room to Texas. If the ACC could find some more stability I think that presents an overall better option for the Irish.
Simple question: Why not Everett Golson?
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
You know, Ryan, you phrased that question as well as anyone I have talked to regarding the QB race. Why not, right?
Notre Dame displayed a handful of different jersey designs last year, including a new helmet. Will it be a similar story this upcoming season?
Matt Fortuna (2:42 PM)
Looks like that may have been a bad link. Here: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/6443/no-word-on-helmets-yet-but
What's the likelihood of ND going into the BIG 12? Sounds like a load of garbage to me.
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Chris, I didn't see any new developments with this week's news. It's essentially a contingency plan ND can know and feel secure about should the Big East ever fall apart.
paul (pgh pa)
Will Notre dame be a factor in any playoff system or will the conferences dominate?
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Paul, ND has a voice at the table and will likely have fair access to the playoff. It won't matter much if they're not good enough to get there, though.
Lane Kiffin (Los Angeles, CA)
The Trojans have beaten the Irish nine-out-of-10 over the last decade. What are the odds of the Irish winning only one game over the next decade?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Not good. It's amazing to think that's been the case recently, so I have a hard time seeing ND not winning more than one game against USC in the next 10 years.
IRISH LOYALTY (ALL OVER, USA)
A few of the anti-Irish contigent on the boards were claiming the Irish's value is solely based on their television appeal. We have good academics and the greatest history, too. Matt, what do YOU think is the main reason the Irish are so highly sought after?
Matt Fortuna (2:52 PM)
Television, history and academics all play a factor. So, too, does religion. Why else do you think BYU can be an independent? Schools with certain affiliations will always have their audiences, regardless of where they are. And as an independent -- and, more specifically, as the premiere independent -- ND has a huge recruiting base that no one else can touch. That being said, there are plenty of factors working against ND in the 21st century, which can be seen through recent de-commits and transfers.
Matt. Any word on a Notre Dame Network? I know Texas has one and is rumored to be a huge reason Notre Dame would consider joining the Big 12. Thanks for the great coverage.
Matt Fortuna (2:53 PM)
Thanks, Paul. Swarbrick has said this before: ND doesn't have the geographical footprint of a Texas to start its own conventional TV network, but it does have the audience to spread out its media over a number of digital platforms. Look at the hockey team's deal with NBC Sports Network, for instance.
Peyton (Rochester, MI)
So if I am reading into the Big12 talks correctly, ND has an option to stay independent and join the B12 in their Olympic sports. I know the talks are early, but I am assuming that if the deal were made, we would have the B12 vs SEC bowl game tie-in. What is really stopping ND from making that move? I know the BigEast is a stronger overall athletic conference, but it would make more sense as we have actual rivals in the B12, Texas and IU. Is it that we don't want to seem desperate or let the moves of other universities have an effect on what our athletic department does. Or is this strictly our way of saying thank you to the BigEast for the unique contract that ND was award, considering some people blame ND for the recent BigEast troubles, cough cough Geno.
Matt Fortuna (2:57 PM)
Peyton, good quesiton about the Champions Bowl tie-in. I haven't seen that brought up yet and don't know how it would factor in, though I'd imagine ND would still be left out of that since it probably wouldn't be playing more than three Big 12 games. (The bowl, after all, is intended for the conference's champion.) As for why ND wouldn't do it? Again, it would strain the Olympic sports greatly. The men's hoops program as we know it would be done, lacrosse (which is in the final four this weekend for the second time in three years) would have to find a new conference ... there are just so many factors that get overlooked in conference realignment, not to mention the ridiculous travel costs and schedules these student-athletes would be going through while trying to study at a strong institution. The Big East has been great to ND in its other sports, and as long as the future of that conference is secure I see no reason ND should leave it.
Todd (San Diego)
Does every program have the constant negativity and calling for the coach's head as Notre Dame does? If it isn't coming from the media it comes from other teams fans and even "so called" ND fans. What gives?
Matt Fortuna (2:58 PM)
I think every big program does to some degree, but not as much as Notre Dame.
Why is the ACC a better option for the Irish, when the Big 12 champ will likely have a guaranteed spot (and maybe two spots) in the 4 game playoff system? Do you feel that staying independent will hurt ND when the 4 team playoff takes effect while other conferences are just gaining strength?
Matt Fortuna (3:01 PM)
Tara, if ND is good enough to be in the top-4, it will likely be in the playoff. There has been, to my knowledge, discussion of ND football joining the Big 12. And it's not like ND is a lock to win that should it join, although the schedule would likely be lighter than what the Irish normally face.
Kevin Corrigan (The Coach)
Are you in Foxboro supporting us this weekend? Or sitting next to the barbecue grill and cooler?
Matt Fortuna (3:04 PM)
Would love to check out Boston, Coach. Alas, that trip will have to wait until the football team heads to BC.
Matt Fortuna (3:04 PM)
That's all the time I have for today gang. Thanks for the strong turnout. Now go have some (responsible) fun. Adios.