Well the news has started to filter out that Irish receiver Michael Floyd will not be suspended for the fall semester by Notre Dame's Res Life.
Are you surprised?
Taking the pulse of Irish Nation since Friday it is clear that there are a lot of differing opinions and emotions on this whole matter.
The more I think about it the more I believe this topic needs to be broken down into three issues of differing importance.
1. What's the fairest punishment?
2. What's best for Michael Floyd?
3. What's best for the University of Notre Dame?
The first issue should be the most important, while the last should be the least important. I've contended since Floyd's DUI that we should not actively hope for or support any sort of suspension whose primary function is to make Notre Dame look "tough" in the eyes of others.
In other words, if you're worried that this decision from Res Life "makes us just like Ohio State, Michigan State, and the SEC schools" I think you're going about this all wrong and I strongly disagree with that opinion and approach.
This doesn't mean Michael Floyd should receive special treatment, or is bigger than Notre Dame, but he should not be punished without taking into consideration what is best for his long-term future (i.e. earning a degree, learning from his mistakes, shaking whatever alcohol problems he may have, etc.) or beyond what is truly fair.
Worrying about what other people are going to think, or basing your idea of a right punishment on how opposing fans will react is just silly. And the ironic part is, fans who worry about these things are the ones claiming that all of us Notre Dame fans berate other schools for being too lenient with their athletes.
I really don't care how other school's punish their athletes (to a certain extent) and I'm sure not going to point to a one-game suspension at Texas Tech or elsewhere and say that Notre Dame needs to suspend Floyd for longer so that I can be satisfied the university took the high road and it won't allow other fans to chastise us.
With all that said, I think a one or two game suspension is fair but I don't arrive at that conclusion with the thought of how Michigan fans are going to react.
I'm wondering if those who want to see an overly harsh punishment for the reasons stated above are the same who are crying that the Irish shouldn't be ranked too high in the preseason for fear that we become overrated and have to deal with the corresponding venom from other fan bases.
"Oh no, other fans don't like us and want to see us fail! How am I supposed to live with all these people attacking Our Lady? What ever will I do under such ruthless circumstances?"
Seriously if you're that worried about what other people are going to say about Notre Dame and are afraid to deal with it, just turn in your Irish fan card now and start rooting for Purdue.
If there's one thing that all Notre Dame fans need to realize it's that opponents are going to sling mud at us no matter what we do. There's no sense in placating them or foolishly trying to amp up punishments in order to get them to shut up...because it's never going to happen.
The university and its fans should worry about a fair punishment and doing what's best for Michael Floyd in the form of making sure he graduates and that something like this never happens again. We shouldn't be worrying about perceptions and what others will think because we largely can't control that.
Notre Dame should do what's right but also do its best to help in this situation, not cave into public pressure in order to uphold some vague holier-than-thou image that is ridiculous to begin with.
The other important thing to remember is that we are a long ways away from this drama being over. Brian Kelly stated after practice on Saturday that he hasn't even begun to think about how many games Floyd will be suspended for because Michael still has a long way to go to prove himself and get non-football things in order. It may turn out that Floyd misses some games, or he might not even make it that far because he slips up and really buries himself with another foolish mistake.
Nevertheless, despite some people's call for a huge suspension, I think the majority of Irish fans are being pretty level headed with this whole ordeal.
I know there are some out there who think a 3, 5, or 6 game suspension (or more) is a the correct punishment and that's fine with me if they honestly feel that is truly what's fair. I'll disagree with that and argue Floyd doesn't need to miss four to six times as many games as the average college athlete in the same circumstances, but if someone thinks that's fair so be it.
But overall, the fan base realizes we don't have to crush Floyd or make an example out of him to prove something to the rest of the world.
If anything, many of us are happy that Floyd wasn't suspended for the fall semester specifically because it will allow him to graduate and earn his degree, whereas if he was suspended those goals might have been dropped or bypassed.
Of course one could argue that wanting Floyd to stay for the fall keeps the graduation rate nice and high and allows Irish fans to brag "graduation national championship!"
In a way, that line of thinking is consistent with wanting Notre Dame to look superior above all else (something I derided earlier), but the difference here is graduating football players and preparing them for the rest of their life is at the essential core of the universities' principles, whereas unscrupuosly punishing students and student-athletes simply isn't something I hold near and dear to my heart as what makes Notre Dame so special or somehow "better" than other places.
Should we argue if Res Life is becoming more lenient or is giving Floyd special treatment in this case?
I don't really think that's the issue, or an issue at all.
It appears the university deemed this Floyd's first alcohol offense at Notre Dame (somewhat debatable, but essentially true) and obviously his first DUI. As such, he will be placed on probation, will have to attend alcohol classes, and won't be allowed to have a car on campus. When you add the future punishment from the courts, his indefinite suspension from the team (which show no signs of changing anytime soon), the stripping of his captaincy, and the possibility of missing a game or multiple games...it's pretty clear Floyd is suffering a lot more than athletes at other schools.
Now what is going to happen is that the focus will come almost squarely on whether or not Brian Kelly will hand down said game suspensions.
We're going to hear about how Kelly is being too lenient, how he is a players coach, and won't bench his biggest star, but that comes with the territory in such a case. That speaks to how Kelly can't act like Jim Tressel in this situation and just suspend Floyd for one game because he has all the power. Kelly will let the university decision run its course, see what happens with the courts, and monitor Floyd's progress through it all.
I think it's important to remember that Floyd is suspended indefinitely from the team too. The haters want to see a suspension from games because they're haters, while some of our fans want to see the same so they can say, "see Notre Dame is tough on its players" but there's really no need to make a decision right now.
I don't think Brian Kelly is being soft in this case at all, in fact I think he's mad as hell at Floyd. Most other schools might suspend a player for one game for a DUI and force them to miss a practice or two, but we shouldn't belittle the seriousness of being suspended indefinitely from the team.
Some might say, "games are the only punishment that matters" but it's different at Notre Dame where Floyd has become sort of a pariah and feels the pressure of his mistake more so than he would at Florida or USC.
I don't want to turn this into too much of a human piece or defend Floyd's actions, but I think we honestly have to understand and empathize the pain and guilt he is suffering right now.
I've never met Michael Floyd nor do I know him as a person, but by all accounts he is a good kid and is someone who made one bad mistake. I'm not going to sit here and judge him and say he has alcohol problems because I don't know if he does or not.
But what I will say is that two months ago Floyd was a model of the type of student-athlete we want at Notre Dame, and his DUI arrest while very disappointing, doesn't change that fact for me.
This is someone who has worked his butt off to go to Notre Dame, and publicly trying to crucify him to prevent a stain on the universities image is a shameful act. And let's be honest, this is not going to stain the image of a great university like Notre Dame, so we can put that nonsense to rest.
The focus should be giving a punishment that is fair and doing what is best for Michael Floyd. With the way the school has handled this so far I am proud to say I believe this is happening.
Maybe Floyd misses a game or two, but he deserves the chance to redeem himself, earn his degree, and eventually rejoin his teammates and play the game he loves and has such a bright future with.