- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Floyd, who had recently been allowed to work out with teammates during his indefinite suspension, will be able to go through the Irish's first preseason practice Saturday. The senior was suspended March 21 after a DUI arrest, his third alcohol-related offense since coming to college. But all along, head coach Brian Kelly made it clear that Floyd could earn his way back with good behavior.
"Over the last four months, Michael impressed those who had close contact with him including professional advisers," Kelly said in a official statement. "Based on my own observations, I am very pleased with the progress Michael has made since March. That is why I am comfortable reinstating him to our football team."
Floyd issued a statement in the school's official release.
"The last four months have been the most humbling stretch of time in my life," Floyd said. "I embarrassed myself, my family, the university, my football team and many more people. I know it will take time to earn the trust and confidence from everyone I let down last spring but I am prepared to do so and will strive to become not just a leader on the team again, but one also in the community."
Credit Floyd for making the necessary changes to get back on the team. Drunken driving, of course, is a very serious crime, and he appeared to be heading down the wrong path based on his history with alcohol. He is far too talented a player to throw it all away.
It's also true that Notre Dame has kicked athletes and ordinary students out of school in the past for far less major transgressions than Floyd's. Kelly has stuck his neck out for the best offensive player on the team, declining to have Floyd miss even one snap of one game as punishment -- though Floyd was officially suspended for more than four months and missed spring practice.
Kelly and the Irish likely will face criticism from some corners for the way this was handled, especially from those who feel Notre Dame ought to operate on a different level than other programs, whatever that means. I've written that holding out Floyd for the opener would be an appropriate gesture. But Kelly has said he's more concerned with making sure Floyd gets his life straightened out than sending a message. If Floyd stays on the straight and narrow and goes on to have a solid career after college, Kelly can feel vindicated. If he goes astray again, especially before this season is out, it will be a public-relations disaster.
It's fair to ask whether a third-string offensive linemen would have received such leniency. Floyd undoubtedly makes the Irish a much better team and gives the offense a top-flight, stretch-the-field deep threat that it otherwise would have lacked. Floyd should shatter several school records and contend for the Biletnikoff Award and other national honors this year.
Few Irish fans will care about Floyd's suspension once he starts catching touchdown passes this fall.
Kelly is scheduled to meet the media on Friday to preview fall camp, and by releasing this information today he ensures that this topic won't hijack the discussion. Floyd and Kelly will hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Check back here for updates.
23hMax Olson and Jake Trotter