Chat with Matt Fortuna
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 4 p.m. ET!
Matt Fortuna (4:01 PM)
What's up, everyone? The regular season is over but there remains no shortage of discussion points. Fire away, gang ...
Matt, what are your thoughts on the Sun Bowl match up? Can the Hokies put up enough points? Need some production from the ground game that isn't LT.
Matt Fortuna (4:03 PM)
Chuck, my initial reaction to the matchup was bad news for the Hokies. As interested as I am to see their D go up against UCLA's attack, I'd be concerned with, like you said, the offense being able to score enough points to keep up with the Bruins.
Aside from losing to their rival, Clemson has defeated LSU, Georgia, and Auburn twice (and almost their NC winning team) and has been slaying / competing with SEC programs out of the ACC for decades. And teams like Texas A&M and Missouri (two Big 12 programs with Big 12 players) have nearly won the conference. Now with FSU with an opportunity, and the BCS almost defunct, will we see less of this media driven conference hype and more focus on individual programs when the play-off
Matt Fortuna (4:11 PM)
Dano, the SEC has won seven straight national titles and has a chance to make it eight straight next month. Complain about "the media" all you want, but facts are facts. Clemson deserves plenty of credit for the wins it has notched the last two years, and for all of the progress it has made under Dabo Swinney, but it has absolutely laid an egg against its rival, South Carolina. That being said, an FSU win over Auburn would certainly help matters.
Wayne Runyon (Strasburg Va.)
I know Fla State didn't play the great competition this yr.Do u think that diminishes what they done??And do you feel they have a good chance to win it all Jan 6th??
Matt Fortuna (4:17 PM)
Wayne, if Auburn were to crush FSU, then sure, I think it would force us all to examine the Noles' 2013 schedule. That said, I certainly think FSU can win the game. And it has done its part to eliminate the strength of schedule argument by absolutely crushing every opponent in its path, and doing so in a way that did not indicate it was trying to run up the score, since Winston & Co. were resting by the early second half in a lot of those games.
What do you think about Frank Beamer's future at VT? Has he gone as far as he can there? If VT wants to compete at a high level do they need another coach or is Beamer the man for the job?
Matt Fortuna (4:21 PM)
Rob, while the Hokies haven't met expectations the last two years, I still think the pieces are in place for them to win at least the Coastal Division crown every year. There is plenty of young talent on that defense. The program's worst scenario, in my opinion, is what's happening now: Conference foes like FSU and Clemson are finally reaching their potentials on the field.
Alex (Basking Ridge, NJ)
Outside of the BCS games and Cotton Bowl, what's your favorite bowl matchup?
Matt Fortuna (4:25 PM)
Alex, from a big-picture standpoint, I am very interested in the Alamo Bowl, considering the perceived mismatch and all of the uncertainties surrounding Mack Brown at Texas. As far as team vs. team, I'd probably go with the Capital One (South Carolina/Wisconsin) or Russell Athletic (Miami/Louisville).
How much of an effect do you think losing both the OC and DC will have on Kelly and ND with recruiting this offseason and with next year's team?
Matt Fortuna (4:27 PM)
Matt, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If anything, I think it might hurt ND's chances of getting some uncommitted guys. As I wrote earlier today, this is the price of running a big business in college football, and seeing assistants get head coaching opportunities is good for business. Florida State is an easy example to follow, as the Noles lost seven assistants last year and, well, have turned out OK in the aftermath.
Matt Fortuna (4:27 PM)
Here's my piece on the Diaco situation from earlier today: http://espn.go.com/blog/notre-dame-football/post/_/id/18886/key-pieces-still-in-place-for-nd-success
Dean (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
With FSU and Clemson appearing to be the top programs right now moving forward, which other ACC Football program do you see being the next best program to compete with these schools. UNC? Va Tech?
Matt Fortuna (4:31 PM)
Dean, I wouldn't overlook Miami, which was able to recruit well and put itself in position to win 10 games this year despite the massive NCAA cloud hovering over the program. With that gone, and with in-state rival Florida struggling, watch out for Al Golden & Co.
Max (Dayton, Ohio)
I hear constant bashing of the ACC, but the conference had 2 legit contenders in FSU & Clemson, seems bulky in the middle,
Matt Fortuna (4:35 PM)
Max, you're exactly right. There is too much of a mediocre crowd in the middle there, and a failure to step up when going toe-to-toe with other conferences. Just look at the final weekend, for example, when Georgia Tech blew a big lead against an Aaron Murray-less Georgia team. UNC, while finishing strong, did itself no favors in the first half of the season, either.
Gary (Hartford CT)
AAC (vs ACC) question....what do you think of the Diaco hire at UCONN?
Matt Fortuna (4:36 PM)
Gary, a litttttle surprising just because he was up for a better job last year, the BC one. I'm really interested to see how he runs a program, especially UConn's, which has been absolutely atrocious offensively for the last four years. But it was always sooner than later with Diaco when it came to getting a head-coaching job, and seeing Chuck Martin get one a week earlier probably only added to the sense of urgency.
What are your thoughts on WFU's hiring of coach Clawson? Do you think he has the ability to make another conference championship run in Winston?
Matt Fortuna (4:38 PM)
Alex, Jim Grobe may have become a victim of his own success after getting Wake to the Orange Bowl a few years ago. I'm not sure that's a reasonable yearly expectation for the Deacs, given all of their disadvantages. But I love the hire of Clawson, whose pedigree in turning strong academic schools (Fordham, Richmond) around provides a great blueprint for what he is about to enter in Winston-Salem.
Matt, Though many like OSU over Clemson I believe Clemson can and will win this game...Canes/Ville game is a great one here in Orlando. Thoughts?
Matt Fortuna (4:39 PM)
Alex, as with many of these bowl games, who gets up for them more is a big factor. Let's not forget Bama laying an egg against Utah a few years ago in the Sugar Bowl. Will OSU be able to overcome being a few plays away from playing for it all? Even if the Bucks are ready, I think this will be a great matchup between two awesome offenses. I'd rank it probably No. 3 overall, behind the title game and Rose Bowl (I'm a sucker for tradition, and defense.)
Matt, through Heather's articles it's pretty clear she thinks Auburn lucked into the NCG and would barely considers them a potential playoff team( it's cool everyone has an opinion). What are your thoughts on Auburn's "luck" (aside from the Georgia game no one can argue that.
Matt Fortuna (4:44 PM)
Trey, I'm not sure what you're getting at there. There is little question, as you said, that Auburn had some breaks go its way in the Georgia game. I remember joking on Twitter right before Bama's final kick that, given the way this season has gone for Auburn, it wouldn't surprise me if they blocked a kick and returned it back for the game-winning score. (I guess I underestimated their "luck" that time around.) My point is, what does it matter? Did Notre Dame get lucky last year that Pitt missed a potential game-winning field goal, or that Brady Hoke stuck with a struggling Denard Robinson in a winnable game, or that Riley Nelson was a few feet off from a game-winning TD pass against the Irish? No. Some breaks fell their way that year, and some have fallen Auburn's way this year. Neither should apologize for it, considering how thin the margin of error is amongst many of these teams. Was Aaron Murray even really in on what looked like game-winning TD at Auburn? That is questionable, too, but gets overlooked after all that happened in the final minute.
Matt Fortuna (4:45 PM)
Found that tweet! https://twitter.com/Matt_Fortuna/status/406941945445900288
Bren (Berkeley, CA)
Which conference most needs their team to win in the Orange Bowl for conference perception?
Matt Fortuna (4:47 PM)
Bren, Big Ten needs it more, no question. One, the ACC has a team in the title game, and the perception of a national title will take precedence over all else. Two, OSU nearly went two straight perfect years in the Big Ten. If the Bucks can't beat the ACC's No. 2 team, they will likely lose much more than a game in January ... they, and their conference, will lose an argument that will inevitable come up again down the road.
Max (Dayton, Ohio)
Matt, what would a Florida St. title & the addition of Louisville do to boost the ACC's reputation heading into next season?
Matt Fortuna (4:50 PM)
Max, no question a title would help a lot, as will Louisville over Maryland. What would help A LOT more would be if Teddy Bridgewater came back ...
Do you believe Fla State will win it all?I am sick of the weak schedule banter.They dominated all opposing teams.Auburn's off will be the best the Noles have faced but the Auburn D is not..what are your thoughts..
Matt Fortuna (4:51 PM)
Wayne, Florida State passes the eye test better, but I have come to expect the unexpected when it comes to Auburn.
With Golson's return and all the skill players back in 2014 on offense, 10 wins for the Irish isn't expecting too much is it?
Matt Fortuna (4:52 PM)
Mike, the word "expecting" may be a lot, though I think if Stephon Tuitt returns that becomes a much more reasonable expectation.
Matt Fortuna (4:53 PM)
I have time for a couple more guys ...
I meant no disrespect, I guess I'm noticing a lot of the media calling a team out for just being lucky more than usual. We can look at Bama last year with Oregon and KSU losing in the same week to bump Bama up. P.S. I have Clemson over OSU with Sammy having a massive day receiving
Matt Fortuna (4:55 PM)
All good, Trey. You can look at Bama the year earlier, too, after losing "The Game of the Century" at home. (They still owe the fine folks in Ames a meal for that one.) I'll have a close eye on the Watkins/Roby matchup in that game, as well as which defense can control the other's O more.
who replaces diaco? internal or external hire?
Matt Fortuna (4:57 PM)
Jim, I wouldn't be surprised if Kerry Cooks gets the full-time promotion (he just got the temporary one a few minutes ago). There will be a new hire or two regardless to fill out the staff, though, and I'm not sure which direction Brian Kelly will go. (Ron Vanderlinden did just leave as PSU's longtime linebackers coach, so he may be worth a call.)
Will everyone but SEC fans be rooting for the Noles?
Matt Fortuna (4:59 PM)
Marc, I would imagine so. On the surface, at least, it appears to be a much easier choice for fans this time around. Everyone outside the SEC wants to see the SEC's reign end. But just as many probably did not want to see Notre Dame be the team to end it last year.
Matt Fortuna (5:02 PM)
That's all from me today, gang. Thanks for another great turnout. Looking forward to some of these bowl games getting underway. Until then, have a good one.