Brian Kelly: 'Can't wrap my brain around' Pinkett comments

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Half a world away, Brian Kelly was still a bit dumbfounded.

The Notre Dame coach reacted here Thursday, a day after Notre Dame color analyst Allen Pinkett suggested Notre Dame needed more “criminals.” Pinkett also said that the program is “growing” because a few players were “worthy of a suspension.” Pinkett was referring to four Irish players who didn't make the trip for various suspensions including last year's starting quarterback Tommy Rees and leading rusher Cierre Wood.

Pinkett added he always felt that there needed to be a “a few bad citizens on any team.”

“I don't know what he [Pinkett] was trying to say,” Kelly said following Thursday's practice, the first on Irish soil after arriving. “I can't put any logic to it.”

Kelly went on to say he wants “tough gentlemen, I want tough guys on the field, guys that play physical and are gentlemen off the field.”

Kelly added about Pinkett's comments, “I can't wrap my brain around it.”

Pinkett was on the team charter but he and Kelly did not speak, the coach said. Pinkett did apologize in a statement:

"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 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."

The Notre Dame Network released a statement saying Pinkett could face disciplinary action. Here is the full text of Pinkett's statements to 670 AM in Chicago.

“I've always felt like, to have a successful team, you gotta have a few bad citizens on the team. I mean, that's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals. 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 have a team full of choir boys. You gotta have a little bit of edge, but the coach has to be the dictator and ultimate ruler.”

Later Pinkett was given a chance to clarify his comments.

“I absolutely meant that,” he said. “Chemistry is so important on a football team. You have to have a couple of bad guys that sorta teeter on that edge to add to the flavor of the guys that are going to always do right. … You look at the teams that have won in the past. They always have a couple of criminals.”

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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