Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 20, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Matt Fortuna

Matt Fortuna
  (12:00 PM)

Welcome aboard, gang. What's new?

Charlie (Marlton, NJ)

You mentioned that you still have a few weeks before you make up your mind about this game. You picked the Irish to lose a few times this year and they proved you wrong. Better be careful with who you choose.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:02 PM)

Good thing I'm not a betting man, right?

Andre (Canada)

Say ND wins the natty this year. Who becomes the preseason Heisman figurehead next season for the Irish?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:03 PM)

Andre, tough to say unless Golson takes a big step. Maybe Stephon Tuitt since he has the fancy sack numbers, but there's no one coming back that I can say for certain will be front and center the way Manti Te'o was this year.

Danny Franklin (South Bend)

Do you agree with me when I say that Louis Nix vs Barret Jones is biggest match up?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:04 PM)

Absolutely. Been saying that since this game was announced. As Nix said: "That's my money game."

Ryan (Portland (Rip City), Oregon)

With the recent addition of Greg Bryant and the pursuit of Tarean Folston (all this despite the recent de-commitment of J.James) what's to happen to Cam McDaniel? He's been great in relief reps and has been a great team player. I feel he's getting snubbed and may not get a real shot to shine. What do you think Tuna?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:06 PM)

He'll get a shot, but there's a lot of talent back there. George Atkinson, Bryant -- and let's not forget Amir Carlisle and Will Mahone, who both redshirted this year. I'm interested to see how that dynamic plays out.

Bigfrogkpc (Easthampton, MA)

Hi Matt, Does the media get to see any Bowl practices? If so, has anyone stood out that was unexpected.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:06 PM)

Simple answer: No.

Dustin (Nashville, Tn)

It seems like the entire country thinks Notre Dame can't score on bama. This isn't the 2011 bama defense. They've given up 4 td's twice this season so obviously they can be scored on. Do you think bama gets too much credit for their shutout victories over poor teams and their lack of D against good teams gets overlooked?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:08 PM)

It's not last year's defense, but it's still VERY good. And ND's offense, for a lot of this season, has not been very good, though it is night and day from where it was at the beginning of the season. I'm most interested to see Golson on the run and the kind of improv stuff he can do against this D, which dominated Denard Robinson but faltered against Johnny Football.

Matt (Chaffee)

Im a huge ohio state buckeyes fan i believe that nd is not as good as people think they need to join a bcs conference and stop playing above average teams in a second tier bcs conference do u agree with that.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:09 PM)

Another simple answer: No.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:09 PM)

ND will have played a team from every single BCS conference this year, plus a good indy (BYU) and Navy. What more do you want?

Mike (Ottawa)

After every win ND had this season, ppl started picking holes in the Irish opponents to point out how it wasn't all that impressive. Honest Q, what will ppl say about Alabama IF ND wins the title game? What will the SEC apologists say?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:10 PM)

Who cares? They can say whatever they want, but the trophy does all the talking.

phillip (dc)

BAMA homer here. Not a question but a comment. I hope BAMA beats the Domers 24-23 and the wire services award the natty to ND. Then the ghost of 1973 will be buried. That game still haunts me . ND seems to always have BAMA's #.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:11 PM)

Will never happen, but funny stuff. Maybe OSU could get the wire service nod if Bama wins, since it would be the only unbeaten.


So i have been a NOTRE DAME fan since 83 and ive seen alot of players go threw the program. So my question is how high would u put manti on the list of greates players ever at Notre Dame?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:12 PM)

Easily the most important of the last 24 years. I'm probably too young to speak beyond that era, but there's no overestimating his importance.

Mike (Indianapolis)

Better interview on Monday: Heistand or Bob Elliott?Also, any updates on how the move made by the Catholic 7 will affect the move by ND to the ACC? Would the football side of it still have to wait until '14 for scheduling reasons?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:16 PM)

Did not get to talk to Hiestand on Monday. Was running around table to table like a mad man with multiple recorders. Got Elliott for a few, and he was great as always. ND got a real gem as its safeties coach this past offseason. As for your other question, football will be fine since it works on its own (plus the 5 ACC games). The other sports are iffy, since no one even knows which side is actually the Big East right now, and thus don't know who to negotiate with about an exit.

Mayan Warrior (Mesoamerica)

Hi, Matt. What is the likelihood of the entire Notre Dame coaching staff returning next season intact, assuming the world doesn't end tomorrow?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:17 PM)

At this point I'd be surprised if anyone left.

Phil (Chicago)

Big Tuna, why is everyone saying you can't give Nick Saban so much time to prepare. Last time i checked we get the same amount of time and have the Coach of the year. Why is this time so much more valuable to him than Brian Kelly?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:22 PM)

Because he's been in this position three times before and has aced every single one. Maybe Brian Kelly will -- I certainly don't think he won't be prepared -- but you just don't know.

Mike (Indianapolis)

Follow up: Are you more happy that you get to go to South Florida in January, or that you get another year interviewing Big Lou?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:23 PM)

VERY good question. Florida is for a week. Nix is for another year. So I'll go with him.

JK (Michigan)

Hey Matt. Happy Holidays to you! Any more news on artificial turf and upgraded scoreboards in ND Stadium. Haven't heard much on that lately.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:29 PM)

You too, JK. No news, but I wouldn't be surprised if at least fieldturf comes next season. Coach wants it, and a lot more people listen to Coach when Coach has a 12 (or 13) win season. They are also installing a new surface this offseason, as they do every five years, so this would be the year to do it.

Agustin (Chicago)

Hey Matt,Where would you rank this years National Championship matchup, with those in the past decade or so? Game, Atmosphere, Hype, etc.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:32 PM)

I think Lou Holtz said yesterday that Texas/USC is the only comparable one of the BCS era. I'd have to agree.

Codee (South Bend)

Tuna, is there a question about Golson being the starter for 13 if he has a MVP type game? Even Though Kiel looked to be promising out of high school.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:34 PM)

It will definitely be Golson's job to lose, but you'd like to think that would only fire up the other guys even more. BK, as you know, is not afraid to replace a guy under center who isn't performing.

Colin (Michigan)

Hey Tuna, thanks again for the chat. You could make a pretty good argument that Notre Dame has been "Tight End U" over the past 10 years or so. With Eifert gone after this year, do you think Niklas can step up and play at the same level as an Eifert/Rudolph?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:36 PM)

Thanks for joining, Colin. ND is TEU. I think Niklas CAN be really good given his athleticism, but I need to see more from him in protection before I make that jump just yet. That Stanford game was not pretty.

Jeff (Indianapolis)

Matt - Have you heard anything indicating that Davaris Daniels will be anything other than 100% on Jan 7? I think he could end up being the X factor that is flying beneath the radar.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:39 PM)

Jeff, he is expected to be full-go, and yes, he will be huge for this offense, as he is the one guy who can truly beat the secondary over the top. It should be fun watching him and Golson together the next three or four years.

Kevin (Pittsburgh)

Do you remember all of the talk at the beginning of the season about ND being irrelevant?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:41 PM)

Yeah. It was nonsense then, and it is even bigger nonsense now.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:42 PM)

"Talk about being irrelevant." Think of the irony behind that phrase.

Kevin (Pittsburgh)

I have started hearing speculation that Gunner Kiel should transfer. Perhaps after the spring if he doesn't win the job. But what about Tommy Rees?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:43 PM)

I'd be SHOCKED (all caps) if Rees went anywhere. I haven't heard anything on Kiel, though if he were to leave after simply a redshirt year then maybe Les Miles was onto something.

Pat (Chicago)

Reading a lot of analysis from a Bama perspective, and they seem to think their secondary is they key to this game. Is it really as mediocre as they claim? I have always heard a lot of good things about Lester and Milliner

Matt Fortuna
  (12:45 PM)

It's their relative weakness. Relative meaning that Bama is No. 1 in total D and rushing D and ONLY 6 in passing D ...

Pat (Chicago)

What do you project the starting secondary to be in 2013?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:46 PM)

Good question. For now I'll say the same as it is now, except with Collinsworth in place of Motta. Lo Wood will figure into the mix somehow, too.

Aaron (South Bend)

Matt - Out of curiosity I just crunched some #'s to compare ND's and Bama's rushing attacks against the top 4 run defenses each team faced(both faced 4 top 40 run defenses, ND faced 3 top 10). ND averaged 193 rush ypg in those 4 games and Bama averaged 154 ypg against their top 4 rush defense opponents. I think Bama may be getting too much credit for thrashing UGA in the SECCG. What say you?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:47 PM)

I'm going with the eye test here. What Bama did on the ground vs UGA was simply insane. I don't know if the Tide have another performance like that in them, but if they do it will be a long night for ND.

Joe (West Virginia)

What are the chances that Cierre Wood returns next year?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:48 PM)

Joe, his mother told the Chicago Tribune last month that he's leaning 70-30 toward going. I'd be very surprised if he returned, given his family situation, his diploma and the fact others have already announced that they are returning.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:50 PM)

Have time for a few more guys ...

Kevin (Pittsburgh)

It is so hard not to be impressed with B. Kelly. He has done at ND what he has done at every other level - just win. Any chance he bolts for the NFL any time soon?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:52 PM)

Kevin, probably not any time soon. But I wouldn't be surprised if some day in the future he decides he wants to give it a shot.

Sammy (Orange County)

How is ND looking on the injury front? I heard somewhere that Daniels has been nursing some injury.

Matt Fortuna
  (12:53 PM)

He broke his clavicle in the BC game and hasn't played since, but he is expected to return to contact next week. He should be good to go. Nix hurt his wrist during the USC goal line stand but should be fine, and Zack Martin hurt his ankle that game, too, but should be full-go come 3 weeks from now.

Jake (Chicago)

Any chance Slaughter is granted the medical waiver, and how would he fit in the secondary rotation? Starter I'd presume

Matt Fortuna
  (12:55 PM)

He'd start if he came back, but I just don't see a loophole ND can exploit to get him another year, assuming he even wants it.

Colin (Michigan)

With the game in Miami, it's not out of the question for rain to be in the forecast. I realize we're still 2.5 weeks away from gameday, but if it were to rain, who would you say that favors?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:56 PM)

The guys who bet the under, and the fans who love 9-6 games. Honestly, though, Golson is more mobile than McCarron which probably works to his advantage in that kind of situation, but I don't think too much will change given the way these teams usually play anyway.

KJohn (Indiana)

Matt, Quite truthfully, based on a lot of things, including schedule, I had ND competing for a NC, no earlier than next season. Well, while we may be ahead of schedule, next year looks very promising. Should BK have two NC's under his belt after next season, what do you think his outlook would be on jumping on an NFL offer?

Matt Fortuna
  (12:59 PM)

Let's see if he can get one first, KJohn. (IF he got it ... who knows. Saban is still going as he aims for his fourth title, but even he had to test the NFL once to see it. As Lou Holtz hit on a bit yesterday, at some point it becomes about maintaining, and it takes the fun out of it.)

Matt Fortuna
  (12:59 PM)

That's all from me today guys. Thanks for stopping by. Safe travels and enjoy the holidays.