Who said criminals are bad in society? Allen Pinkett, Notre Dame's color commentator for radio broadcasts believes they fit in well on a college football team based on his definition of one.
Pinkett's comments bring up a broad discussion of his idea of a "criminal." It can be one that evaluates the economic, educational and racial background of a college athlete. There is no doubt that the discussion is a sensitive one that many are hesitant to discuss. For Pinkett, his choice of words could have been better. The word is defined as someone who is guilty of a criminal act. To say that a student athlete with an edge and attitude is thrown into that category is crossing the line.
When it comes to Notre Dame, they have had a few off the field incidents involving past and current student athletes over the last two years. Michael Floyd's two DUI's, Tommy Rees suspended for the first game in Ireland for resiting arrest and the recent suspensions of Cierre Wood and Justin Utupo for the first two games for violating team rules enables Pinkett's comments.
While Floyd and Rees' incidents involve what you would call "criminal acts," for Pinkett to say that criminals should be encouraged to play is not just bad for Notre Dame, but for every other program in college athletics.
For over 30 years, Notre Dame is a program that has not budged on its standards for admitting student athletes. While others have lowered their standards, Notre Dame refuses to lower them. Universities like Miami (FL) began to recruit within the inner city neighborhoods of Miami back in the early 1980's. These players had swagger and an attitude, but you wouldn't go calling them criminals because of that and their background. They were talented and won national titles. Under Lou Holtz, Notre Dame was able to bring in two players under Proposition 48. Since Holtz, the school currently does not allow it.
Is it wrong for Notre Dame to develop an attitude to intimidate opponents? No. Because everyone does it. Playing with an edge and attitude can work if you back it up with your play. The Irish have lacked that Notre Dame intimidation and attitude that they used to have decades ago that opponents saw when they came out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium.
If Pinkett believes that Rees and Floyd's arrests are going to make the team better, then every Notre Dame fan should fear for the worst. His definition of a criminal leaves much for debate and promotes a negative view of college recruiting and the behavior and conduct of student athletes.