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Does Notre Dame need criminals to succeed?


Notre Dame made headlines this offseason when linebacker Carlo Calabrese and starting quarterback Tommy Rees were arrested and subsequently suspended for the season opener vs. Navy.

This Sunday, Brian Kelly levied suspensions to leading rusher Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo for violating team rules.

On Wednesday morning, Fighting Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett appeared on Chicago’s “Mac and Spiegs” radio show on 670 The Score to discuss the programs recent negative attention.

“I’ve always felt like, to have a successful team, you gotta have a few bad citizens on the team,” Pinkett told McNeil and Spiegel.

He did not stop there and continued to go farther into the deep end with his inflammatory and controversial comments.

Pinkett would go on to say “I think Notre Dame is growing because maybe they have some guys that are doing something worthy of a suspension, which creates edge on the football team…You get your butt kicked with a football team full of choir boys.”

Clearly, Kelly and his staff are not recruiting glee clubs, but do you want your favorite program to have criminals on your team if it means success?

Pinkett is under the impression that a few criminals sprinkled throughout the roster and starting lineup will be beneficial to the team’s win-loss record.

“I don’t want any mass murderers or rapists. I want guys that maybe got caught drinking that are underage, or guys that maybe got arrested because they got in a fight at a bar. That’s the type of criminal I’m talking about.” Pinkett said

Thank God he does not want any mass murderers or rapists lining up on the football field at South Bend.

I imagine there are a large fraction of college football fans who want to win at all costs, and if it means recruiting a player with a checkered past, the fans and school will turn a blind eye to his criminal ways.

That is the wrong belief.

If they are indeed criminals, they should not only be kicked off the football team, but also perhaps removed from the university.

A number of high-profile players this season have been kicked off their teams for their criminal activity and my hope is that more coaches follow that example of not being held hostage by a good player.

The University of Miami was made famous by the type of player Jimmy Johnson recruited during the program’s glory days, and was mocked by Notre Dame students with “Catholics vs. convicts” t-shirts in 1988.

Certainly you need to have an edge to play football at an elite level, but that edge should not be carried off the football field, and coaches need to recruit players who understand that difference.

At what point does integrity outweigh potential bowl games?

I hope that coaches are more concerned with the integrity of their program than their win-loss record.

Notre Dame can be an elite program again, but it does not need to start recruiting from the police blotter to get there.

Kelly can only point the finger at himself for the predicament his team is in.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Wednesday mornings from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.