Notre Dame's recent suspensions of four players could actually be a sign the program is gaining an "edge" that will help it be more successful, Irish radio analyst Allen Pinkett said Wednesday.
"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 choir boys. You get your butt kicked if you've got a team full of choir boys 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."
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly suspended starting running back Cierre Wood and backup defensive Justin Utupo two games each for violating team rules. Kelly has also suspended quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese for the season opener in Dublin against Navy for their roles in a skirmish with police following a party in May.
Pinkett didn't immediately back off his comments when given a chance later in the interview.
"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."
Later Wednesday night, Pinkett released an apology through the station.
"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," the statement said.
"I understand that there may be consequences to my actions and accept whatever discipline is imposed."
The Notre Dame IMG Network also released a statement saying that it is "extremely disappointed" in Pinkett's comments and disagrees with them.
Former Notre Dame quarterback Joe Theismann strongly disagreed with Pinkett during an interview on ESPN 1000 with "Carmen, Jurko & Harry."
"It's ridiculous," Theismann said. "To me, these statements that he is making are so ridiculous and so absurd, and I can guarantee one thing: I wouldn't want him coaching any one of my kids. I don't know how you think that you can have a criminal element on a football team anywhere and think that you can be successful. To me those statements are ludicrous, they're irresponsible, they're ridiculous."
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick also rejected Pinkett's comments, saying in a statement, "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."
Pinkett has worked as Notre Dame's radio analyst since 2001. He was a two-time All-American running back with the Irish before playing seven NFL seasons with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.
ESPN.com's Notre Dame reporter Matt Fortuna contributed to this report.