Sunday, April 10, 2011

Digesting the Floyd Saga

On Monday March 21, Notre Dame fans awoke to the news that Michael Floyd had been arrested for Driving Under the Influence just off-campus. The story broke about seven hours after the basketball team had been abruptly and unceremoniously dismissed from the NCAA Tournament so at the time it was like waking up from a bad dream and being in the midst of an even worse reality.

The general assumption was that since this was Floyd’s second run-in with that law in a little over a year, Notre Dame’s disciplinary arm (ResLife) would drop the hammer down on the superstar. After all, a couple years ago Will Yeatman was arrested for a second time and ResLife booted him despite the fact he had only a .02 BAC after a party was busted off-campus. Why would anyone expect anything different to Floyd, especially when the second offense was far worse than Yeatman’s?

Shockingly though, ResLife did not suspend the Irish standout for the fall semester. In fact, it didn’t even levy a punishment that would prevent him from playing in a single game. His sentence included a hefty amount of community service, but he was free to resume football activities as soon as head coach Brian Kelly deemed Floyd to be ready.

This announcement led to two major reactions. The first was one of relief and joy within the Irish fan base. For the second time since January 1, Notre Dame received the unexpected gift of Michael Floyd returning in 2011. He’s bar-none the best player on the offense (probably the entire team) and will likely go down as the greatest receiver in school history once he’s done rewriting the record books this fall. Adding him back into the mix instantly heightens the ceiling and potential of the 2011 campaign.

The second reaction was the predictable backlash from both the “ambulance chasers” of the journalistic community out to take a shot at Notre Dame whenever the opportunity presents itself and message board lunatics on places like Many bashed the decision to “let Floyd off the hook,” crying it was hypocritical and that Notre Dame needed to drop the “holier than thou” attitude because it was turning into Oklahoma, Florida, or Miami in terms of leniency under Brian Kelly.

I’ve thought about this situation way too much over the past three weeks. I’ve deliberated by myself and amongst fellow Irish fans as to what the best and worst case endgames were for this fiasco, what should and shouldn’t happen.

I’m very glad that ResLife appears to be changing its ways. The ways in which it traditionally dished out punishment to students—and especially its higher profile enrollees on athletic teams—was completely unreasonable and counterproductive.

One thing I must stress though is my sincere hope this is an across the board transformation. Notre Dame prides itself on not treating its athletes any differently than its regular student body. It truly does make it unique that you live down the hall from guys on the football team, work together on projects with basketball players in classes, and that every single member of every sports team graduates with a legitimate degree—unlike places like Michigan and Florida State.

After Charlie Weis was fired, he singled out ResLife as the major problem facing Notre Dame’s football program and stated it needed to change. What he failed to do was emphasize it wasn’t hurting just the football program, but the rest of the student body as well.

When a 20-year old football player is suspended for a semester because he blew a .02 after an off-campus party was busted that’s completely ridiculous. When a normal freshman student is given a hefty fine, hours of community service, and assigned to alcohol classes for being caught holding a beer by an undercover officer at a tailgate despite blowing a .00 (like a friend of mine did) that’s equally outrageous.

The purpose of ResLife should be to help students grow and learn from their mistakes, not ruin or severely setback futures of young adults. If this ruling represents a shift toward that philosophy then that’s a great thing for the entire school.

Back to Michael Floyd.

Floyd hasn’t been reinstated by head coach Brian Kelly and Kelly has said there’s no timeline for a return. So while critics point at Notre Dame for being hypocritical and countless hack journalists like David Haugh emerge from the clown car in which they all reside with pens in one hand and hatchets in the other, they leave out the major detail that no decision has been made on Floyd’s football future.

Brian Kelly insists that Floyd won’t be back on the team until his life is back in order and priorities rearranged. This ruling from ResLife is the ultimate second chance to earn a degree and while showcasing his talents for the next level in football. One more misstep—no matter how minor—and he’s gone.

Notre Dame Football needs him if it wants to be an elite team this year. He’s a game changer on the perimeter and one of the most prolific and dominant receivers in the country. The season opener against South Florida is no “gimme.” The Bulls are a well-coached group and present a much more dangerous challenge out of the gate than San Diego State, Nevada, and Purdue have the past three years. Michael Floyd splitting out wide and starting that game would be huge.

But he shouldn’t be able to do so.

It’s my hope that Brian Kelly permits Michael Floyd to begin working out with the team this summer. Over that time he must prove to both the coaching staff and his teammates that he’s changed, he’s dedicated to the cause, and ultimately committed to representing the University of Notre Dame in a way that makes the entire Irish Family proud.

If Michael does all the necessary things prove that then I’d like Coach Kelly to announce that he will be eligible to play starting in week two against Michigan.

DUI is a very, very serious matter. It can't, shouldn't, and won't be taken lightly. Yes, people make mistakes and people deserve second chances—which Floyd is receiving in multiple ways—but slip-ups like this also merit a penalty that will make a profound impact on the offender. Nothing makes an impact on an athlete like stripping him of his ability to compete.

As much as I want to see Floyd out on the field against USF, I think it’s only right he’s suspended for that contest. A spring suspension, stripping of the captaincy, a couple extra hard days spent at Longo Beach, and a game spent watching from the sideline is fair recompense for his crime. Brian Kelly appears to have a very solid grasp on the situation, but there's a mob of people waiting to pounce on him depending on what he decides. All Irish fans can do is sit back and trust he'll handle it properly.

Michael Floyd has been granted a huge opportunity to redeem himself. Let’s hope that he seizes this second chance both on and off the field.


  1. Good article.

    I agree with Res Life needing to clean things up. I am a '94 grad, so I do not know how things have changed 'in practice' as opposed to 'in DuLac' over the last 20 years, but in the early 90's drinking was allowed as any age by ND studenst as long as it wasn't "abusive" (i.e. drinking games) or "in public".

    I appreciated that, but always found it strange that, once you walked on to ND's campus, you could drink as much as you want, just don't you dare have sex!

  2. A 1 game suspension with our schedule also has a bigger impact than a lot of other schools who open against D-Iaa teams or other such cupcakes. Wasn't South Florida in the SEC championship recently?

  3. Great article, and couldn't agree more with your assessment of the appropriate punishment due from Kelly to Floyd. Would even be OK with 2-game suspension (though the fan in me wants Floyd on the field for those pesky wolverines).

    Erik - Totally agree that a shorter suspension means a lot more on our schedule than most other programs (i.e. Ohio "we play 8 home games against a bunch of cream puffs" State). Wonder what Kelly will do?

    Also FYI... South Florida plays in the Big East, so they certainly were not in the SEC championship any time recently. They did have a solid season and made a late run toward the top of the Big East a couple of years ago, but have been down in the past 2 years. They were 7-5 last year with a bowl win over Clemson in Holtz's first year. Expectations are that they will be competing for the Big East championship in the next 2-3 years, but you have to remember that (1) those are only predictions based on new coaching and come with almost every coaching turnover in the country and (2) we are talking about Big East football, not basketball, so making the championship game is only so much of an accomplishment.

  4. Let Floyd he had a few drinks big deal..he is a great player

  5. Who cares if he smokes weed and drinks... boys be nice

  6. Look at Michael Irvin...he was allowed to have fun and look how he turned out.....I think its ok for a player to be himself....I think players should be able to smoke what they want and enjoy their college years....why set rules which only hinder development

  7. Notre Dame is way too white bread and needs to diversify their lily white population

  8. Wow, the last few comments are some of the most random I've seen on a Notre Dame board.

    I think Floyd should be suspended for two games. I think only suspending him for one game gives the impression that he is coming back just in time for the Michigan game. It's not like this was an underage drinking ticket, drunk driving is a huge problem and the suspension should be a) significant and b)something that sets us apart from schools like USC, Miami, and Ohio State.

    Even if ResLife has become more lenient, we're still Notre Dame and we should expect a higher standard. Drunk driving is always unacceptable.

  9. I'd have no problem with a two game suspension.

  10. OSU players get arrest for DUI on the reg. I recall one who got busted literally a stones throw from the stadium on campus a few years ago. No suspension. USA, USA, USA...