What's up, everybody?
Teddy Marks from New Zealand writes: Matt, I am an American living down under. Your article is simply gobsmacking, as they say in Kiwiland. Notre Dame is not just an institution of higher learning, it is supposed to represent higher learning! The numbers you provide should make sane people sit up and ask, "What is going on?" A coach is fired and getting paid what?! Everything about this situation is just so wrong, but what's worse is that there are probably a dozen other comparable scenarios out there. Quite frankly, since the idea of a "student-athlete" is really from a bygone era, and what we have now are really professional wannabes posing as students. Maybe the guys at Northwestern are at least going to make the NCAA drop the charade of financial integrity with regard to the athletes in light of this sort of garbage in the coaching ranks -- garbage that is the norm and put right out there in front of everybody by Matt Fortuna. And let's not forget it's the presidents and boards, intellectual giants that they are, that make these contracts while they wring their hands over the latest tuition hike. At Notre Dame, you'd like to think the prez there would know what the Bible says about greed. Or stewardship. This note is undoubtedly rambling and incoherent. Still gobsmacked.
Matt Fortuna: Teddy, this might be the angriest, profanity-free, printable email or tweet I've ever received. And not entirely without merit, either. Bravo. (Coherent, too.)
Jack from Erie, Pa., writes: Notre Dame can only go to the Orange Bowl twice over the next 12 years. ... So if they go, say 10-2 this season, would one of those slots get used up right away? Also, how many at-large spots will there be in the new format? If the SEC champ is in the playoff, does their spot in the Sugar Bowl then become an at-large? I'm concerned in that there doesn't seem to be a ton of access for ND to the big bowls if they finish outside of the top four.
Matt Fortuna: Jack, if the Orange Bowl wants Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish are eligible for it, I see no reason why they wouldn't jump in. "Saving" a spot for a later year, so to speak, would be foolish on the Irish's end, in my opinion. The Irish have been to just one BCS bowl in the past seven years. The new format's elite games are three contract bowls with league tie-ins (Sugar, Rose, Orange) and three access bowls (Fiesta, Peach, Cotton) with none, with two of the six bowls rotating into the semifinals each year. The Sugar Bowl is a semifinal this upcoming season. But the access bowl spots will be filled by any power conference champion that didn't make the playoff and has no contract with one of the remaining elite bowls. The elite bowls must also take the highest-rated team from the group of non-power conferences. The highest-ranked remaining teams, as determined by the selection committee, would fill in the open top-tier bowl spots. This new format presents Notre Dame with many more bowl options than the BCS did, as the Irish have both the Orange Bowl deal and the ACC deal, which allows them to step over another ACC team for its spot in a non-elite bowl if the Irish's record is better than, equal to or within one of that ACC team, or ranked higher in the final standings.
Kj from Kent, Ohio, writes: Surprised you didn't mention William Fuller in your WR section of the spring wrap-up. He had as many catches as Corey Robinson did last year and would've had at least two more TDs if Tommy [Rees] had a DI arm. Don't sleep on Fuller, Matt!
Matt Fortuna: I'm not sleeping on Fuller, Kj! (Sorry for the yelling back.) I just believed Robinson deserved singling out among the sophomores given how much potential he has with that frame, and the fact that Brian Kelly raved this spring about how much he loved coaching Robinson. That said, it's anybody's guess as to who will emerge from the pack among the young guys. The opportunities are certainly there for the taking at receiver.