- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Allen Pinkett probably didn't endear himself to too many Notre Dame alumni Wednesday.
In light of recent two-game suspensions to Cierre Wood and Justin Utupo -- on top of the earlier one-game suspensions for Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese — the former Irish running back and current radio analyst said on The McNeil and Spiegel Show that Notre Dame needs a few "bad citizens" in order to win.
"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team," Pinkett said on WSCR-AM (670). "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 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 can't have a football team full of choirboys. You get your butt kicked if you've got a team full of choirboys so you've got to have a little bit of edge. But the coach has to be the dictator and the ultimate ruler. Here's my opinion: You don't hand out suspensions unless you know you've got somebody behind that guy that can make plays."
Given a chance to back off his comments, Pinkett kept going.
"I absolutely meant that," Pinkett said. "The chemistry is so important on a football team. You have to have a couple of bad guys that sort of teeter on that edge to add to the flavor of the guys that are going to always do right because that just adds to the chemistry of the football team. You have to have ... you look at the teams that have won in the past they have always had a couple of criminals."
Surely, school administrators and alumni will react just swimmingly upon hearing those words come out of the mouth of a high-profile Notre Dame graduate. Yes, mediocre recent play -- a 32-31 record over the past five years and zero BCS bowl wins ever -- needs to improve, and it has sparked endless conversation about whether a school like Notre Dame can still compete at the top level on an annual basis. But having a few "bad citizens" isn't the answer.
Last I checked, the aforementioned disciplined players were on the team the past two years. Unless they became "bad citizens" overnight, I'm not sure how this theory works out, given consecutive 8-5 seasons.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick issued a statement Wednesday afternoon: "Allen Pinkett’s suggestion that Notre Dame needs more 'bad guys' on its football team is nonsense. Of course, Allen does not speak for the University, but we could not disagree more with this observation."
UPDATE: Both Pinkett and the Notre Dame IMG Network released statements Wednesday night.
Pinkett: "In reviewing my remarks from a radio interview Wednesday, it's clear that I chose my words poorly and that an apology is in order for these inappropriate comments. My words do not reflect the strong pride and passion I have for the Notre Dame football program.
"I am deeply sorry and did not intend to take away the focus from the upcoming season opener. I especially would like to offer my sincere apology to the current members of Notre Dame’s football team, including Coach [Brian] Kelly, the entire Notre Dame community, the IMG College Audio Network and the Ohio State football program. As a proud Notre Dame graduate, I wish nothing but the best for our football team and the University.
"I understand that there may be consequences to my actions and accept whatever discipline is imposed."
Notre Dame IMG Network: "The Notre Dame IMG Network is extremely disappointed in the comments made by Allen Pinkett in his radio interview. We completely disagree with those comments. As his employer, we will be determining disciplinary action to be taken."
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney