7:29 PM CDT, August 30, 2012
Allen Pinkett didn't get into any trouble when he was wearing that fabled gold helmet in South Bend, Ind., in the mid-1980s. He waited until he was 48 to take a seat in the Dean of Discipline's office.
The Notre Dame radio analyst had his headset taken away Thursday and returned from Dublin where the Fighting Irish open the season against Navy Saturday. It looks like they're serious about cleaning up the image at ol' Notre Dame.
Pinkett rattled Irish Nation and stole the spotlight from the first weekend of the college football season nationally Wednesday when he suggested his alma mater would benefit from accepting a criminal element.
Though I disagree with comments Pinkett made on my radio show, they were far more honest than the former running back's "save-my-butt" apology offered later that evening.
Given several chances to reshape his outlandish thoughts, the former ND running back dug his heels in even more.
"Oh, I absolutely meant that," Pinkett said when my co-host, Matt Spiegel, encouraged Pinkett to reconsider the notion that "criminals add to the chemistry of the team."
"Bad guys add to the flavor," Pinkett continued. "I don't want any mass murderers or rapists. … I want guys who maybe get arrested because they got in a fight at the bar."
It's doubtful Brian Kelly would concur. The third-year Irish coach is sitting three projected starters for assorted transgressions on the season opener Saturday against Navy.
Sadly, Pinkett's endorsement for college football programs to take a look-the-other-way approach to aberrant behavior has garnered support.
To some, the Neanderthal gene that must be accessed on a football field cannot be "turned off" once the game is over. And they're saying that's OK — encouraged even.
Pinkett pointed to Ohio State as a perennial powerhouse that has prospered because of bad citizens. I'll dial in on one of the nastiest Buckeyes ever, Chris Spielman, a contemporary of Pinkett's.
Former Bears quarterback Mike Tomczak, a college teammate of Spielman's, told me that before training camp opened, the linebacker checked himself into a nasty hotel on the outskirts of Columbus. There, he would sit quietly, light candles and visualize arriving at a ball carrier with rude intentions.
Spielman didn't have a rap sheet. He was one of the most ferocious players I ever covered and when his NFL career concluded, he was Lions' all-time leading tackler.
If only Spielman had vandalized a few saloons on High Street in Columbus, maybe the Buckeyes would have won a national championship during his tenure. Maybe he should have decked a few Detroit coppers to get the Lions to their first Super Bowl.
I admired Allen Pinkett as a player. He's a solid broadcaster and seemingly a decent guy. It's my hope his removal from the Irish radio booth isn't permanent.
But he was wrong Wednesday. UntiI quantifiable evidence that thuggery begets success arrives, I'm on the other side.
And while Notre Dame hasn't been as righteous as some of its zealots would like you to believe, the ideals for which the university strives are commendable.
Touchdown Jesus wasn't erected so it could be fitted for an orange jumpsuit.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC