- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Enjoy the weekend.
Scott Miller from Valparaiso, Ind., writes: Hello Matt,I grew up 5 minutes from Notre Dame's campus and have been a fan my whole life. I have resolved myself to the possibility that Everett Golson may not take another snap under center for the University of Notre Dame. I understand why Coach Kelly made the announcement that Tommy Rees will be the quarterback to start the season. Our future may very well lie with Malik Zaire. My question is two-fold. With Everett Golson gone for the 2013 season, does this limit Coach Kelly's ability to red-shirt Malik Zaire so that he has more time to learn the system? My other question is why was Tommy Rees named the starting quarterback so early? I think that it is obvious that Andrew Hendrix is the better dual-threat option. Is the lack of experience for Hendrix hindering him from a legitimate shot at the starting quarterback position? I am looking forward to your insight on this matter. Go Irish!
Matt Fortuna: Thanks, Scott. The timing of the announcement was a bit of a surprise, but I don't think it changes too much day-to-day around the program. There was simply no way that someone with Rees' experience and ability wasn't going to start the season opener. He has 18 starts; the other guys have zero. I think it is highly unlikely now that Zaire redshirts, as he will likely be dropped in here and there throughout the season to get his feet wet and, if Rees struggles, could be a candidate to eventually start at some point in the middle of the season. Hendrix is clearly a better athlete than Rees, but you have to remember that he had plenty of opportunities to take hold of the offense in 2011 during some of Rees' struggles. For whatever reason, he could not work himself onto the field all that often. And then he threw a costly pick late in the Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State. Does this rule Hendrix out from seeing meaningful time this fall? Of course not. But Rees has proven himself more capable through the first three years of both of their careers.
Alan Francis from Chicago writes: Matt,You are right---all success is pre-paid for by pain and suffering beforehand.ND has been stung and hurt over the past several months but they have kept their attitudes and focus on getting better and using who and what they have to win games.Last year at this time they had Lynch leave the program, Rees and Calabrese in trouble with an off campus party incident, ad had some recruits bail on them too---big ouches.Guess what?--They went out and game by game built a 12-0 season and built some positive momentum.ND has already paid the price in suffering and hardship in the recent past--let's see just what they purchased come this Fall. I think they will have a good season.Keep up the good reporting...Alan Francis
Matt Fortuna: Thanks, Alan. I've touched on this a bit this spring and summer: It's not like this program went quietly into hiding last offseason, either; the Irish had a number of major headlines that, once again, called into question whether they could consistently compete among the college football elite. If there is an ideal coach to get the players' heads down and push ahead, it is Brian Kelly. Are things perfect? No. But the pieces are at least in place for another strong, possible BCS-bowl run.
Kenny from Bluefield, W. Va., writes: Matt, is their any word on a new contract for BRIAN KELLY and staff. If not please tell me that it will be done before the opener against Temple.
Matt Fortuna: Kenny, no news to report at this time, though I think that both Kelly and Jack Swarbrick are on the same page. Swarbrick doesn't seem to see it as an issue whenever he's asked about it; he even pointed to the length it took to finalize Mike Brey's deal with the men's hoops program. That deal had been talked about in the spring of 2011 before officially being signed in the summer of 2012.