Notre Dame Football: Allen Pinkett

Jurkovic, Brown to handle radio duties

September, 5, 2012
Former Notre Dame All-Americans Mirko Jurkovic and Tim Brown will handle radio broadcast duties in place of the suspended Allen Pinkett.

The Notre Dame IMG Radio Network made the announcement Wednesday, one day after announcing the three-game suspension of Allen Pinkett, who will return for the Sept. 22 contest against Michigan.

Jurkovic will call this Saturday's Purdue game with Don Criqui, while Jeff Jeffers, who replaced Pinkett in Dublin, returns to the sideline. Brown will call the Sept. 15 game at Michigan State.

Allen Pinkett suspended 3 games

September, 4, 2012
The Notre Dame IMG Radio Network has suspended analyst Allen Pinkett for three games without pay for recent controversial comments he made about his alma mater's football program.

Pinkett's suspension began with last weekend's game against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, and will include Saturday's game against Purdue and the Irish's Sept. 15 game at Michigan State. Pinkett will return to work the Sept. 22 game against Michigan.

For Matt Fortuna's full story, click here.

Notre Dame mailblog

August, 31, 2012
Howdy! What's on your minds with the season less than a day away?

Robert Godsill from Peoria, Ill., writes: I say we have talent at linebacker, tight end and running back. Our quarterback and offensive success is going to be determined by our offensive line and young receiving corps, however. Defensively we need to avoid the big play and we will be fine. Seeing some of our speed pay off in the return game is a must. In the unlikely event we click on all these cylinders I feel we have potential for a 1-2 loss season with a national championship run in us. What are your thoughts on the Irish this year?

Matt Fortuna: Robert, first-team offensive line might be the team's biggest strength. You underestimated the Irish there. Everywhere else? Well, it will take an awful lot to pull off 10 or 11 wins this season, even if they click on all cylinders. This schedule is that brutal. Avoiding the occasional big play will be tough with two new starters at cornerback. Last season they gave up their share of them, and that was with two experienced seniors back there. Like everyone else, I'm interested to see what Davonte' Neal can do in the return game. Taking everything into account, however, I have a hard time expecting this team to win more than eight games.

Khefa Nosakhere from Houston writes: Matt, Looking at ND's schedule, and an unsettled QB situation, I see 4 wins (Navy, Purdue, BC and Wake). They have the toughest schedule by far. Irish eyes are cryin in 2012...

Matt Fortuna: Ouch. I think even the most pessimistic of fans see more than four wins. The four you mentioned and the Miami and Pitt games are certainly the easiest six on the schedule, but as we saw last year (South Florida), you can't assume anything with this team.

Stephen from Glastonbury, Conn., writes: With wood suspended the first two games, who do you think will lead the Irish in rushing during this span? Does Golson have a chance to do this?

Matt Fortuna: Everyone assumes Golson is a running quarterback. And we all know why. The simple fact is he is athletic, yes, but he has the best arm on the team and will look to throw at every option. His athleticism will come in handy when keeping plays alive and avoiding blitzers, and then, if everything else breaks down, yes, he can possibly take off. And the short answer to your question is Theo Riddick, with George Atkinson III behind him.

Taylor from Chicago writes: I'm sure you've got some pull. You need to let whoever's making decisions around there that they need to put Pinkett back on the air. Immediately.

Matt Fortuna: Ha! You have greatly overestimated my standing.

Podcast: Mike Golic from Ireland

August, 31, 2012
Mike Golic checks in from Ireland as Notre Dame has removed Allen Pinkett from the broadcast in the game against Navy.
One of the most memorable moments during the 2011-12 NBA season came during Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. San Antonio entered the fourth quarter trailing Oklahoma City by nine, when cameras caught Spurs coach Gregg Popovich saying this:

"I want some nasty."

Those last four words made the speech a YouTube sensation and even sparked T-shirts. More importantly, they inspired his team as the Spurs went on a 13-3 run and won the game 101-98. At the heart of that run was Stephen Jackson, the one man who personified "nasty" on that team, holding NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant to six points in the fourth.

I bring that game up because we loved Pop's moment. We knew exactly what he was talking about, and so did his players. They didn't win the series, but what they did do was remind NBA fans that the Spurs' championship play may be "boring" in the eyes of some but it should never be mistaken for soft.

We despise soft.

Which is why I'm not going to throw Notre Dame radio analyst Allen Pinkett completely under the bus for the comments he made earlier this week during a Chicago radio interview. Pinkett was asked about Notre Dame suspending lead rusher Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo for violating team rules. His response included these remarks:

To read the rest of L.Z. Granderson's column, click here.

Irish lunch links

August, 31, 2012

Notre Dame chat wrap: Aug. 30

August, 30, 2012
Thanks again for stopping by for the final preseason Notre Dame chat. Just think, next week we'll have a game to go over and much more to second-guess. As always, this week's transcript is available here.

Some highlights:
  • Giancarlo Toffoli (St. Jean, Canada): Mr. Fortuna,it is getting to be difficult to await another upcoming college football season knowing that my beloved Irish are not going to be relevant for a BCS bowl. If the starting quarterback against Navy plays well, do you think the head coach will go back to the person whose off the field behaviour led to his suspension or will there be a two headed beast under center for the 2012 season?
  • Matt Fortuna (2:22 P.M.): Wow, very candid stuff from an Irish fan. (Not that I'm opposed or completely disagree, it's just different to see such harsh words come out of a fan's mouth in regards to his team.) To get to your question, though, Rees will remain a valuable option down the road, but I don't expect as quick of a hook with a redshirt freshman as I would with an experienced senior. It is in the entire program's best interest to get this QB decision right, and showing a lack of faith early on would be troubling.
  • Mo (Providence, R.I.): Matt, do you think this is finally the year we beat Michigan, not to mention Michigan AND MSU in the same year?
  • Matt Fortuna (2:32 P.M.): Mo, ND will need to win at least one of those if it wants to have a good season. I think predicting both, given what those two teams bring back, and given how soon after the Dublin trip they are, may be asking a lot. I like the Irish to top Michigan but fall at MSU. Which means the exact opposite will probably happen.
  • Aaron (Philadelphia): I found it interesting while listening to Mike and Mike discuss the Pinkett situation and saying they would not want their schools to compromise their academics for wins in football. And I believe more than the majority of Notre Dame alumni agree with that. But as most Notre Dame fans probably aren't graduates of the school, such as myself, do those fans care at all that the school keeps academics a high priority? I know as a non graduate from ND I can see how you can be torn between that, because the only time you really are connected with Notre Dame is on Saturdays watching them play football, and they want wins. Personally, I admire the stand on academics that ND has taken over the years, regardless of the toll on football wins. It'd be interesting to see what position alum and non alum fans would take on the topic.
  • Matt Fortuna (2:40 P.M.): Aaron, that's become an interesting side topic these last few days, especially after Pat Forde's Yahoo! column, which quotes associate VP for undergraduate enrollment Don Bishop saying: "There's the fan base, and then there's the alumni base. We think the alumni are very supportive of maintaining the standards. They're more likely to question the football coach than the admissions office. For the fans who are only interested in the sport, they're not in support of all that is Notre Dame. You can't be all things to all people. You better be who you are." Now, that's obviously a broad brush, and I can't speak for every side. Is someone who went to class there and received a degree more likely to feel attachment to the place because of reasons more than football? It would make sense. I think "Subway alums" certainly have a lot less invested in the place, naturally, but I don't think that means all or some don't believe in what ND stands for.
  • Matt (ATL): As a writer reflecting on college football generally, would you view ND making a national championship run as the greatest accomplishment in modern college football given its high standards and commitment to ethical conduct as a program? [I would have said the same about Stanford recently, but they never made it to the 'Chip.]
  • Matt Fortuna (2:59 P.M.): Assuming you're talking about the 2012 team, I think it would be very, very impressive, given the schedule, question marks and, yes, the challenges an ND football player faces. Greatest of the modern era? I don't know. We're always racing to call the newest accomplishment the best. I think what Boise State's done lately is unrivaled, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than the scenario you presented.

Irish Lunch Links

August, 30, 2012
Football is back. That is all.

Podcast: Mike & Mike on Allen Pinkett

August, 30, 2012
Mike Greenberg and Adnan Virk share their thoughts on Allen Pinkett's controversial remarks regarding the recent suspensions of four Notre Dame players and more.

Allen Pinkett's comments off-base

August, 29, 2012

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."

Former QB Blair Kiel dead at 50

April, 9, 2012
We went into the weekend chiding Les Miles for (more) petty comments regarding Gunner Kiel. How trivial that seems this morning.

Instead, we're talking about Kiel's uncle, former Notre Dame quarterback Blair Kiel, who died Sunday at the age of 50.

Blair Kiel was a heck of a signal-caller during his days with the Irish, from 1980-83. He had been the Irish's first four-year starter at the position since Gus Dorais in 1910-13. He attempted more passes than anyone in school history. He tossed the longest completion in school history, a 96-yarder to Joe Howard against Georgia Tech in 1981. The next year, he led the Irish to a win over unbeaten and top-ranked Pitt.
"He was my starting quarterback for two years and he was a great leader," former Irish running back Allen Pinkett, who played with Kiel in 1982 and 1983, told the Chicago Tribune.

"I sort of viewed him the same way I viewed (former Irish All-American) Dave Duerson, and Dave was my captain and Dave was the guy I really tried to emulate the most. Being the quarterback at Notre Dame is unlike any other position the United States. So to be able to handle all that pressure with the grace that he did it with, I definitely learned a lot from Blair. He was always a model of consistency in terms of keeping your head up."

Funeral arrangements are pending. Notre Dame does not practice again until Wednesday. Whenever Gunner Kiel does return to the field, it will likely be with a heavy heart. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kiel family and to the Notre Dame football program.

Award show recap

December, 12, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A dozen Notre Dame players walked away from the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with hardware. The winners from the 91st football awards ceremony Friday:
  • Notre Dame Monogram Club Most Valuable Player: Michael Floyd (over Harrison Smith and Tyler Eifert)
  • Nick Pietrosante Award (courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, pride): Harrison Smith
  • Guardian of the Year Award (offensive lineman): Zack Martin
  • Lineman of the Year Award: Darius Fleming
  • Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Manti Te'o
  • Next Man In Award: Robby Toma (over Jamoris Slaughter)
  • Back of the Year Award (new): Robert Blanton
  • Offensive Newcomer of the Year Award: Jonas Gray (over Chris Watt)
  • Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award: Dan Fox (over Aaron Lynch)
  • Special Teams Player of the Year Award: Austin Collinsworth
  • Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Everett Golson (over Matthias Farley)
  • Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Brandon Newman (over Justin Utupo)

Notes: Floyd is the 10th two-time team MVP, which is voted on by the players. The other two-time winners are Brady Quinn, Autry Denson, Derrick Mayes, Tony Rice, Tim Brown, Allen Pinkett, Bob Crable, Greg Collins and Terry Hanratty. In a classy move by the senior, Floyd specifically thanked scout-team players Jalen Brown and Joe Romano in his brief speech. … Tight ends coach Mike Denbrock, who presented the defensive scout team award, also gave Newman a ping-pong ball for his work with "Trick Shot Monday." … Collinsworth's trophy for the special teams award was actually a WWE-style championship belt. … Tricia Bellia, Notre Dame's faculty athletic representative, was honored with a monogram jacket. … All four helmets Notre Dame wore this season sat in front of the podium. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick joked about the number of letters he received this season for the headgear and for Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."


Top Position Battles Heading In To Spring
While a good portion of the country is buried in snow, spring football is underway. Adam Rittenberg looks at some of the top position battles heading in to spring practice.