It's unclear what kind of message Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was trying to send to star receiver Michael Floyd by suspending him for spring football, but Irish faithful hoped it worked.
Kelly announced Monday that Floyd, who was arrested and subsequently suspended for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on March 20, has been cleared to participated in a voluntary workouts with the team, but Kelly wants to make clear that he has not be reinstated.
"Michael has made steady progress towards modifying his behavior and he may participate in the voluntary workouts being conducted by his teammates as well as the summer strength and conditioning program, if he so chooses," Kelly said in a statement. "However, Michael still has steps to take before he can be considered for reinstatement to our football team. If he meets the conditions I have outlined to him and he demonstrates improved decision-making skills, Michael will have the opportunity to rejoin the team for practices and games this fall. If he doesn't meet every criteria given to him, Michael will not play for Notre Dame in 2011."
Floyd has had three alcohol-related issues since 2008, but Kelly seems willing to give the Irish's top receiver a fourth chance to show he can change. Kelly has already said in the past that Floyd's future with the Irish will go one of two ways: either he plays the entire season or he misses the entire season. There seems to be no middle ground.
So, as Floyd works his way back into a shape for a season that may or may not happen, one has to question how much of a punishment Floyd's two-month-and-change hiatus really was? Obviously, the details of his "steps" have not been revealed to the public, but it all seems rather trivial and moot at this point.
Brian Hamilton from the Chicago Tribune seemed to put it best in his analysis Monday evening:
Playing in 2011 is possible for the 2010 team MVP only because the previously uncompromising university discipline arm stood down, allowing Kelly to impose penalties and affect change in Floyd's behavior his way.
If Floyd doesn't miss a down come September, Kelly risks all that goodwill on a player with a history of fabulous play and dubious decision-making — while putting Irish faithful in the uncomfortable spot of conceding Notre Dame might not be as different as they expected it to be.