By Matt Spiegel-
(CBS) We were not out to bury Notre Dame.
Golden dome acolytes have surfaced since Allen Pinkett’s appearance, and angrily accused us of destroying a guest who offered time and opinions.
The McNeil and Spiegel Show covers college football more than most on the radio station and we were looking for a season preview. Our producer Nick Shepkowski was bound for Dublin for the opener. Point spreads, depth charts and Ireland plans were going to be the focus. We wanted a season preview.
Dan McNeil’s first question to Allen Pinkett was informed by David Haugh’s column in the Tribune yesterday. Brian Kelly’s discipline seemed a good step forward from the last few years in South Bend. Did Allen agree?
You’ve heard the audio, or read the quotes. I hope you’ve grasped the full context of the conversation.
We took no joy in hearing a man damage his career and reputation on our air.
LISTEN: Allen Pinkett On The McNeil & Spiegel Show
We gave him a chance to restate it. I offered him a blatant re-phrase option. Did you mean, Allen, that when you broaden the scope of your recruiting pool in order to compete with the big boys, you’re going to end up with some questionable characters that may end up committing some minor violations?
No, Allen said he didn’t mean that.
A third life preserver was tossed towards the end of the interview. I admit to feeling a bit like Ted Koppel on that fateful Nightline when Al Campanis buried himself, deservedly so. “Mr. Campanis, I’m going to give you one more chance…”
But Allen Pinkett didn’t want another chance. He clarified that rapists and mass murders were not preferred, but that underage drinkers, bar fighters, and public cursers are what he wanted.
We laughed, nervously, at that third answer. The laughter sounds odd, borne of discomfort as it was.
This is a man we like, a player we admired, a comfortable name I fondly remember returning kicks in Tecmo Super Bowl. This is a man who dug himself into an enormous hole, and waved off options to use a ladder.
Our show was due to get back to giddy Bears dissection, the joy of Martzlessness, silly parody songs, and White Sox attendance jokes. The laughter was incredulity at a man not wanting a light hearted rescue.
Since his appearance, the conversation can widen and evolve, with perspective added.
Did Allen simply mean that you need edgy, somewhat crazy guys to comprise appropriate team chemistry? Yes. But say that and pull back on the criminal desires, especially during opportunity three or four.
Did he mean that on a big time college team, is it somewhat inevitable to have infractions? It probably is.
There’s a telling soundbyte you missed if you’ve only taken in the snippets. Allen said you only suspend players if you have good back-ups ready to go behind them.
Football first, everybody.
I think Allen Pinkett was trying to be edgy and funny. I think he wants Notre dame to unapologetically be big, brash, winning, and does want them to stray from some unrealistic character ideals he believes will only hold them back. He proudly bristles at recent attacks on the relevance of the program, and whether it deserves the high profile it enjoys.
We can all help put his remarks into context on the back end, and you are more than welcome to explain the true intents of his thoughts.
But he didn’t do any of that himself.
Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show and Sundays from 9am–Noon CT on Hit And Run.