"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team." Allen Pinkett, in an interview last week with 670-WSCR in Chicago
Last week, on the way to the airport to hop a flight over to Dublin, Ireland, so that he could handle his weekly color analyst duties on the Notre Dame radio network, former Irish and Houston Oiler running back Allen Pinkett uttered several regrettable nuggets of opinion on Notre Dame, criminals, and just how deeply the Venn diagram for the two should overlap.
The money shot was the line above, but there were several other beauties along the way, including a tragically hilarious line to the effect of not wanting rapists or murderers to enroll at Notre Dame, just guys who drank, cussed, and got into bar fights. A few of those guys would be a welcome addition.
Having spent four years of my adult life and countless other weekends in South Bend, I had a pretty good idea that the school wouldn't stand for Pinkett's opinion.
And sure enough, they didn't.
As soon as the team landed in Ireland and caught wind of Pinkett's remarks, head coach Brian Kelly immediately denounced them, athletics director Jack Swarbrick scoffed at them, and school president John Jenkins demanded that Pinkett wear a scarlet "C" for "criminal" for the rest of the 2012 season. (I may or may not have made that last part up.)
Okay, maybe no scarlet letters, but today the Notre Dame IMG Radio Network (the radio arm of the university, if you will) came up with their punishment for Pinkett -- he will serve a three-game suspension which means, having already served one game during the trip to Ireland, he will return to the booth for Notre Dame's September 22 night game against Michigan.
Per the folks at IMG:
Allen has done a great job for the Notre Dame IMG Radio network over the past four years, has a supportive fan base, and most importantly, has expressed deep heartfelt remorse for his choice of words, which were not in the spirit of college athletics. After careful deliberation and thorough discussion, we believe the right decision is to allow a truly repentant Allen Pinkett an opportunity to return to the booth beginning with the fourth game of the college football season.
Pinkett also had comments on his suspension. In a statement that was about as polar an opposite as one could concoct to "Interview Allen" the week before, Pinkett sounded more like a repentant serial killer than an overzealous alum of a school that hasn't been in a national title hunt in two decades:
I would again like to offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to all those affected by my inappropriate comments, particularly the University, the school's hard-working and courageous student athletes, all Fighting Irish fans and team supporters, our friends at The Ohio State University, and my colleagues at IMG Notre Dame Radio Network.
(Why Ohio State, you might ask? Here's why: "That's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals and that just adds to the chemistry of the team." I mean, was that a dumb thing for Pinkett to say? Maybe. Was he right? Well, yeah. Kinda.)
The apology was a noble gesture, albeit an overly dramatic one. I'm pretty sure all the entities Pinkett singled out as "affected" by his comments got along just fine this past weekend. The players, ever hardworking and courageous, beat the Naval Academy by a score of 50-10. The Irish fans and team supporters all seemed to have a great time, especially the ones in Ireland (many of whom, ironically, probably took part in the exact behavior Pinkett had wanted to see more of from the players -- drinking, cussing, and maybe even some fighting!)
So if you're keeping track at home, here's what the Notre Dame suspension menu looks like:
* Drunk driving: 0 games, run some steps (Michael Floyd, 2011) * Underage drinking, running from cops: 1 game, shit-ton of pepper spray in the eyes (Tommy Rees, 2012) * Underage drinking, telling the cops "my people will get you": 1 game, lots of Sopranos jokes (Carlo Calabrese, 2012) * Advocating drinking and fighting and cussing: 3 games (Allen Pinkett)
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Makes perfect sense.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.