Chat with Matt Fortuna
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:03 PM)
Hang on folks. Matt's taking care of a quick story and then he'll be here to chat!
Matt Fortuna (2:17 PM)
Thanks for hanging tight, guys. Busy week for former Notre Dame players. But now that Allen Pinkett is officially off this weekend's broadcast and my story is filed, let's get down to business. What's up?
Bill R (Los Angeles, CA)
As an Irish Fan and LA resident I want nothing more than the Irish to beat USC this year. How likely is it that my dream could be a reality this season?
Matt Fortuna (2:19 PM)
Bill, it doesn't look too likely right now. There are too many question marks about Notre Dame, from QB to WR to secondary. Can it all work out for the Irish between now and then? Of course. But USC returns a boatload of talent from a 10-2 team that smacked ND around on its home field last yea, so I can't make an argument against a USC win at this moment.
Giancarlo Toffoli (St. Jean, Canada)
Mr. Fortuna,it is getting to be difficult to await another upcoming college football season knowing that my beloved Irish are not going to be relevant for a BCS bowl. If the starting quarterback against Navy plays well, do you think the head coach will go back to the person whose off the field behaviour led to his suspension or will there be a two headed beast under center for the 2012 season?
Matt Fortuna (2:22 PM)
Wow, very candid stuff from an Irish fan. (Not that I'm opposed or completely disagree, it's just different to see such harsh words come out of a fan's mouth in regards to his team.) To get to your question, though, Rees will remain a valuable option down the road, but I don't expect as quick of a hook with a redshirt freshman as I would with an experienced senior. It is in the entire program's best interest to get this QB decision right, and showing a lack of faith early on would be troubling.
Austin (Muncie, IN)
Who will get most of the workload at running back this weekend because of the suspensions?
Matt Fortuna (2:24 PM)
Austin, Theo Riddick and George Atkinson will see most of the time, with a chance Cam McDaniel gets in a few carries as well. Amir Carlisle is unavailable.
How quickly will we see Chris Brown, Davonte Neal and Davris Daniels? I am also assuming that the ideal line-up would be Brown, Daniels and Neal/TJ Jones in the slot, as this would give us the most physically talented lineups we've had in a while. How long before we see this combination
Matt Fortuna (2:29 PM)
William, I think you'll see all play Saturday, especially Daniels, but I'm not sure about the lineup you wish. T.J. Jones isn't really considered a slot guy in ND's offense this year. They have a proven guy there right now in Robby Toma, with the very talented Neal coming in behind him. Regardless, I expect all to contribute in 2012.
Hey Matt, I enjoyed that sweeping of the Skankees at the hands of the White Sox last week, you too? I kid, I kid. Anyway, has Everett established any go to guys in practice? Have any receivers, besides Eifert of course, become a regular target for Everett that will carry over into the games? Love the blog and GO IRISH!
Matt Fortuna (2:31 PM)
Hey, Sox deserved it. Looking good this year. And we haven't seen any practice time since Everett was named the starter. Kelly was asked this past week who would step up at WR, since Eifert is seemingly the only established go-to guy. He said it is a deep and talented group, but there has yet to be a guy separate himself at the top just yet.
Matt, do you think this is finally the year we beat Michigan, not to mention Michigan AND MSU in the same year?
Matt Fortuna (2:32 PM)
Mo, ND will need to win at least one of those if it wants to have a good season. I think predicting both, given what those two teams bring back, and given how soon after the Dublin trip they are, may be asking a lot. I like the Irish to top Michigan but fall at MSU. Which means the exact opposite will probably happen.
I found it interesting while listening to Mike and Mike discuss the Pinkett situation and saying they would not want their schools to compromise their academics for wins in football. And I believe more than the majority of Notre Dame alumni agree with that. But as most Notre Dame fans probably aren't graduates of the school, such as myself, do those fans care at all that the school keeps academics a high priority? I know as a non graduate from ND I can see how you can be torn between that, because the only time you really are connected with Notre Dame is on Saturdays watching them play football, and they want wins. Personally, I admire the stand on academics that ND has taken over the years, regardless of the toll on football wins. It'd be interesting to see what position alum and non alum fans would take on the topic.
Matt Fortuna (2:40 PM)
Aaron, that's become an interesting side topic these last few days, especially after Pat Forde's Yahoo! column (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf--notre-dame-won-t-compromise-values-for-wins--so-deal-with-it.html), which quotes associate VP for undergraduate enrollment Don Bishop saying:
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
"There's the fan base, and then there's the alumni base. We think the alumni are very supportive of maintaining the standards. They're more likely to question the football coach than the admissions office. ...
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
" ... For the fans who are only interested in the sport, they're not in support of all that is Notre Dame. You can't be all things to all people. You better be who you are."
Matt Fortuna (2:41 PM)
Now, that's obviously a broad brush, and I can't speak for every side. Is someone who went to class there and received a degree more likely to feel attachment to the place because of reasons more than football? It would make sense. I think "Subway alums" certainly have a lot less invested in the place, naturally, but I don't think that means all or some don't believe in what ND stands for.
Pat (South Bend, IN)
Hi Matt, Thanks for your hard work covering ND.Two questions:1. How big of an impact will the veteran ND offensive line have in some of the toughest games on the schedule?2. What do you think are the chances of going to a BCS bowl for ND assuming a 9-3 season (losses to USC, Oklahoma, and maybe MSU)?Thanks
Matt Fortuna (2:44 PM)
Thanks Pat. I'm always leaning toward no when it comes to 9 wins and a BCS berth, but so much of that depends on what the big-picture looks like nationally that it is impossible to say at this point. Ten though, with this schedule, should be a near-certainty.
Matt - What's your take on Joe Montana's comments on Golson? And thanks for terrific Irish coverage.
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
Thanks Chris. In short, I wouldn't put too much stock in what Montana has to say about the program so long as Brian Kelly is coaching.
I'm unfortunately not an alumnus, but I certainly value their stand of academics over football. I'm rooting for Notre Dame, the institution, a whole lot more than just the football team.
Matt Fortuna (2:47 PM)
A Notre Dame fan in New York City!? Get out!
Will we fair catch every punt again this year?
Matt Fortuna (2:48 PM)
Tommy, they would've kept John Goodman there if they wanted to do that. Let's see what Davonte Neal can do. He looks explosive, and ND isn't putting a true freshman back there to remain status quo, that's for sure.
Matt am I the only one that thinks the secondary is going to be a bigger issue than most think? We the loss of Lynch our pass rushing is significantly dropped and QBs, ie Landry Jones, Matt Barkly and a couple others will have all day to pick apart our CBs. Any chance of them stepping up and becoming a phenomanal secondary?
Matt Fortuna (2:50 PM)
Ethan, you're not alone. It's a huge concern. Can they eventually be good? Sure. But to expect that, without any growing pains, is asking an awful lot last year, especially seeing what happened with a veteran group last year. And yes, this schedule doesn't exactly help.
David (New Orleans)
Hey Matt.... Notre Dame 34 Navy 10 what do you think?
Matt Fortuna (2:52 PM)
David, I made mine earlier today: 38-17 (http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/8406/prediction-week-1-at-navy)
Chris (Nashville, TN)
Matt,Could you explain to me what exactly it was that Allen Pinkett said that justified a suspension? Sure it was stupid, but it wasn't offensive. He did a poor job trying to make a point that teams need players with an edge. I recall a certain former ND coach who declared he would field a "nasty" football team. I do understand the difference between the two, but I'm not quite sure why a stupid, harmless comment would generate such wide-ranging outrage.
Matt Fortuna (2:54 PM)
Chris, I think there was a point Pinkett was trying to make, but he did a poor job of expressing it. Being employed by the university, essentially, I have to believe he had little chance of surviving this thing unscathed. If ND is what it professes it to be, it can't have its broadcaster making public comments about criminals, etc., like he did.
ND will not give up more than 20pts to any opponent not named Oklahoma or USC...period!
Matt Fortuna (2:55 PM)
BYU may have something to say about that. But will it matter if ND can't move the ball efficiently in the other games?
As a writer reflecting on college football generally, would you view ND making a national championship run as the greatest accomplishment in modern college football given its high standards and commitment to ethical conduct as a program? [I would have said the same about Stanford recently, but they never made it to the 'Chip.]
Matt Fortuna (2:59 PM)
Assuming you're talking about the 2012 team, I think it would be very, very impressive, given the schedule, question marks and, yes, the challenges an ND football player faces. Greatest of the modern era? I don't know. We're always racing to call the newest accomplishment the best. I think what Boise State's done lately is unrivaled, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than the scenario you presented.
Matt Fortuna (3:00 PM)
I'll stick around for a few more since the Pinkett news held me up at the beginning.
Matt simple questions: How many does ND win this season?
Matt Fortuna (3:04 PM)
I said 8 in the regular season, though less certainly wouldn't surprise me.
You are a 5 star recruit with a scholarship from Notre, USC, Alabama and Florida? Where would go?
Matt Fortuna (3:09 PM)
It depends where you're from/what your background is, etc. Personally? Sunny LA sounds a lot more appeasing than frigid South Bend on the surface, but that's just one man's opinion. I've never seen USC's campus and don't know nearly as much about its staff as I do ND's, not to mention a variety of other factors that can come into place. I guess the short answer is yes, warmer weather cities, in general, are much more appealing to recruits from warm-weather climates, which is where most of the major talent is.
Pat Whit (Bloomington, IL)
Matt, considering C. Wood will be sitting out the first couple games, what are the chances that Theo Riddick puts up huge numbers in the backfield and is named the starter and Wood only recieving limited carries?
Matt Fortuna (3:12 PM)
Pat, I think it's possible that Riddick runs away with this job, yes. Whether it's officially a "starter" or "backup," I think it's a case of semantics. Jonas Gray ended up taking the first carries by the end of last year, but I wouldn't necessarily have called Wood his "backup" at the time.
Matt Fortuna (3:13 PM)
That's gonna be all from me today guys. Thanks again for hanging tight. Lots of good, diverse questions today. (Having a starting QB may have something to do with that.) Looking forward to the weekend and meeting up again next week. Enjoy!