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May 18, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Fortuna

Matt Fortuna
  (1:59 PM)

Welcome aboard all, and congrats to all the soon-to-be graduates. What's on everyone's mind today?

Casey (South Bend)

All three recent losses to Michigan have come down to the wire and ended favorably for Michigan. I can't believe we'll see a repeat AGAIN this year. It's our time, right? Who ya got?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:04 PM)

Casey, that would be cruel. Gun to my head right now, I take Michigan based on recent history. But, who knows? The game is in the fourth week this season, not the second. And both teams will have had early season tests already (ND v MSU, Mich v Bama), so it won't be the typical "season-setting" game we've seen recently. Also, it's a night game, and we know how much ND wants to rebound from last year's night loss to USC. I'm excited for it.

Aaron (KC, Missouri)

Matt,1 question & 1 bold prediction for you on this fun friday. 1. Do you think ND's defense will give up fewer points per game this year?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:07 PM)

I'll say yes, despite the stiffer competition. Lots of young talent there, and the offense can't possibly turn it over that much and put the defense in such a bad position again and again, right?

Leslie (Minneapolis)

What CBs will be available next year in the NFL draft? That way my whole secondary will be from Notre Dame!

Matt Fortuna
  (2:09 PM)

Ha, your best bet is to go the safety route, again. Jamoris Slaughter is a pro.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:09 PM)

Ha, your best bet is to go the safety route, again. Jamoris Slaughter is a pro.

Sean (Philadelphia)

Matt, why do people seem to think Aaron Lynch was ND's best player? Te'o and Eifert are clearly better and are already being projected as 1st round picks next year. I would also put both Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick ahead of Lynch, along with Zach Martin. Heck, I think you could argue that fellow freshmen Stephon Tuitt, who actually had a higher recruiting ranking, is just as good as Lynch. Aaron has a bright future, but to write off the season over 1 kid who is mostly one dimensional is a but extreme.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:14 PM)

Sean, I don't think people are writing off the season over the loss of Lynch, though it certainly hurts. And no, Lynch isn't ND's best player, though he was shaping up to be in the coming years. Few freshmen do what he did when first stepping onto the field, and those are the kinds of talents you need to compete for BCS spots on a consistent basis. Throw in the whole "warm-weather-kid-away-from-home-in-cold-Indiana" and you wonder what this says to other big-time recruits weighing ND against other powerhouse programs nearby.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Who will have a bigger year for the Irish on defense, Stephon Tuitt or Ishaq Williams?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:16 PM)

Tony, I'll go with Tuitt, though I think Ishaq has the chance to break out this season. Thing is, Tuitt is already a starter, and Ishaq will probably still back up Shembo, though I think the staff will try to find more ways to get Ishaq on the field.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:17 PM)

Tony, I'll go with Tuitt, though I think Ishaq has the chance to break out this season. Thing is, Tuitt is already a starter, and Ishaq will probably still back up Shembo, though I think the staff will try to find more ways to get Ishaq on the field.

Concerned Fan (NY, NY)

How many more self recruiting violations is it going to take for the NCAA to look into Ohio St and make aware that something is truly wrong at that school?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:19 PM)

OSU has certainly had its share of troubles, but I wouldn't read too much into the secondary violations. Give them credit for reporting those, which I'm betting not every school does. Also, it sheds light on just how ridiculous some of these rules are. Urban Meyer telling a HS kid "good luck" before a game? Get outta here. The only one in there that actually raised my eyebrows was Gene Smith filming a video for a recruit. Surprising to see an AD make a mistake like that.

Scooter (South East of South Bend)

Can we expect someone to step up and replace Harrison at safety and who would that player most likely be?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:21 PM)

Scooter, Jamoris Slaughter isn't Harrison Smith, but he's a very good player and a great leader to have back in the young secondary. I wouldn't worry about the safety position too much, especially with Zeke Motta and Austin Collinsworth there as well.

Jorge (Camden, NJ)

Please address the reports that the Tommy Rees incident took place at John Goodman's house.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:22 PM)

Jorge, John Goodman answered the door of the house when one of the local TV stations knocked on the door following the incident. That's all I've got for you.

Mike (Cape Coral)

Matt, with the Trojans grabbing two top RB's, whos left out there for Notre Dame, and do we really need one in this class. I think we are ok with depth.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:25 PM)

Mike, ND is high on Ryan Green from St. Petersburg. He's a four-star kid who has liked ND all along and is expected to visit this summer and for the Michigan night game. He's actually rated higher on the ESPN150 than Ty Isaac. There is plenty of depth back there, but you can never have too many RBs, especially with the top two (Wood and Riddick) leaving after this year.

Brian (Raleigh)

Hey Matt. Any more insight into this "news" regarding the schedule with Michigan? Last I heard, either school can opt out with three year's notice. Other than that, much ado about nothing right? And, on that topic, why is it always portrayed that ND is trying to back out?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:27 PM)

Brian, what you said. Either can opt out with three years' notice, which I think is good to keep things flexible in the event of college football looking nothing like it does now in five years, with realignment, the Big Ten/Pac-12 scheduling agreement and whatnot. As for your last question, I'm not sure I've seen the portrayals of ND trying to back out.

Rocket (Wilkes-Barre)

I was the last Irish player to have a resonable shot at the Heisman (though several others like Bettis, Brooks, Mirer and Quinn all placed in the top five). Who is the next? Any current player or recruit?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:29 PM)

I'd say Manti Te'o, but I just remembered the Heisman doesn't acknowledge defensive players. The Heisman Pundit has said Cierre Wood is a darkhorse candidate, but I just don't see enough carries for Wood this year with everything they've got in the backfield. The Heisman attention comes with winning, so ND needs to do more of that in order to get their better players more national love.

Matt (Cleveland)

Matt, Do you think Rees is the starter week one this fall given his legal issues and the talent behind him? That first month is crucial and Brian Kelly needs a 4-0 September.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:32 PM)

Matt, no, I don't think Rees starts. And 4-0 would obviously be nice, especially with the even tougher October slate, but let's remember a team with higher expectations last year went 2-2 with losses to USF and what is believed to be an inferior Michigan team to this coming year's. If ND escapes 3-1 that would be very big this year.

Brian (Raleigh)

Love your answers so far today, Matt. Spot on. I know it's early, but please speculate as to how you think the kickoff rule changes will impact CFB in general, and ND in particular.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:35 PM)

Thanks, Brian. It will hurt guys like George Atkinson, who are capable of making big returns. But it is all in the name of safety. I remember Greg Schiano floated the idea of eliminating them completely after the Eric LeGrand injury. If the rule-makers are going this far to eliminate chances at injury, you do have to wonder what's next.

Travis C. (Lake Highlands)

Why hasn't anyone asked about the Big 12/SEC news from today? It looks like CFB is moving to 4 power conferences, with eventually the Big12/SEC winner meeting the B1G/PAC winner for the championship. Does this make Notre Dame start looking at joining a conference?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:42 PM)

Travis, I was waiting for someone to ask. Here's what AD Jack Swarbrick had to say to The New York Times' Pete Thamel after the news broke, via Thame's Twitter: "We don't think it has significant near-term consequences for Notre Dame." Swarbick also added that each conference let him know about the talks in the past few months. That being said, with no more AQs/non-AQs, the dividing line has seemed to begin between the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big 12 and everyone else. The ACC, which many figured to be ND's landing ground should it ever give up its football independence, took a hit today.

Robert (Highland)

Matt - are there any current football players who can crack an MLB starting rotation? My Cubs could use 3-4 more...

Matt Fortuna
  (2:44 PM)

Robert, you may want to check out the basketball team. Pat Connaughton throws a mid-90's fastball, and he's not even on a baseball scholarship.

Mike (Cape Coral)

Lets get serious here, with all the BCS playoff talk going on, should fans start to worry about the loss of independance. How long until ND is forced into the ACC or even the B1G? I would prefer the B1G but I know the ACC has more to offer the other sports.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:47 PM)

Mike, I'd have to think the ACC's chances of getting ND took a big hit today, as the conference appears to be on the other side of the dividing line between the elite powers of college football.

Michael (North Carolina)

Do you think Eifert will break the 1000 yard mark this year? Do you think he'll win the Mackey? I think he should have last year.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:48 PM)

Yes and yes. I think he should've too.

Brian (Raleigh)

In your short time covering the Irish, who has been your favorite current or past player or coach to interview. I gotta think Golic is right up there, but who else we might not think of?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:51 PM)

Golic's up there, as are Manti Te'o and Louis Nix. Jonas Gray was great, too, but Harrison Smith takes the cake. As for coaches, no one beats Chuck Martin.

Mike (Mission Viejo,CA)

After watching USC sign another two five star players this week, I can't help but think Notre Dame might never be able to catch up. I mean, weren't the sanctions supposed to bring USC back to the rest of the group? it's the first season they lose scholarships and they are favorites to win the title.

Matt Fortuna
  (2:54 PM)

Mike, I don't have the link in front of me, but look up the Heisman Pundit's piece this week on how the sanctions may have actually helped USC. It allowed the Trojans to focus more on their recruiting targets, eliminated complacency, spread out some of the talent (as opposed to having 10 All-American RBs, etc.) and made Lane Kiffin think outside the box (i.e., more of a passing offense than balanced because of the current weapons). It's amazing what they've done given the restrictions placed on them.

John (Chicago)

Hendix is a liability, makes terrible decisions throwing the ball and has a higher turnover to snap ratio than Tommy. If Golson doesn't get the start, 8-5 would be a miracle season. Agree or disagree?

Matt Fortuna
  (2:58 PM)

John, he hasn't seen enough time to get a good gauge of his numbers in terms of TO-to-snap, though some of the decisions were obviously poor. That being said, you can't just assume Golson -- who couldn't get the plays in on-time in the spring game -- is going to step right in and make every perfect throw. He did a lot for himself in spring, and could very well be the answer, but let's put the brakes on a little bit before we assume he's the savior of Notre Dame football without ever having played in a game.

Dustin (Warren, MI)

If ND sweeps the state of Michigan this year, can we agree they are probably BCS-bound?

Matt Fortuna
  (3:00 PM)

Dustin, if Notre Dame escapes September 4-0, then yes, the Irish have a great shot at making a BCS game.

Matt Fortuna
  (3:01 PM)

That's all from me today folks. Thanks for stopping by. Now go out and enjoy this nice Midwestern weather. And behave during graduation weekend. Adios, ladies and gents.