Floyd, after a third alcohol-related arrest over a 27-month span, would remain suspended from team activities throughout the spring, but Kelly would entertain the possibility that his star player could rejoin the team in the fall – provided, of course, he follow a course of action set forth by the head coach and the school's disciplinary body.
The details of said criteria remain largely private, but the end result – Floyd's official reinstatement in time for 2011 training camp – came to its fruition, or, at least according to the cynical masses, its inevitable conclusion.
(Cynics, in this case, are also commonly referred to as "realists," but I digress…)
"This has been a process for us," Kelly said at Tuesday's reinstatement press conference. "Michael and I have worked through it and Michael has done the things that I've asked him to do over the last four-and-a-half months, and I feel really good about giving him this opportunity to be part of our football team."
Though a career highlighted by 171 receptions, 28 touchdowns, and 2,539 yards might suggest otherwise, Floyd's reinstatement was purportedly not set in stone.
"This was not something that was pre-arranged, it was a process that had to play itself out over a series of months," Kelly reiterated. "I can tell you that from all the information I've gotten, both through conversation and written information, and through my personal time with Michael, that he's in a position in his life that I can trust him to be part of our football program and represent us with higher standards."
Floyd, who's latest brush with alcohol abuse involved a March 2011 OWI -- operating while intoxicated -- to which he plead guilty in June, was contrite two days prior to Notre Dame's first August practice.
"I just want to say thank you to the coaching staff. I'm grateful to be back on the team," Floyd said. "I want to say I'm sorry and I take full responsibility and I'm sorry to my teammates, and coaches – coach Kelly especially – and most important to my family.
"I know I let a lot of people down; the fans ... moving forward I just want to make positive decisions."
Though the full parameters of his service, rehabilitation process, and punishment were not revealed, Floyd will live on campus at Dillon Hall as a senior (as mandated by Residence Life). He offered that he did not partake in Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, but that he did receive counseling, both with a student group from the University, and one in a one-on-one session regarding drug and alcohol education.
Floyd also revealed he has been to a bar "in a social setting" since his arrest, but he did not have a drink.
"I feel every time I think about it, I know what's at stake," he said about consuming alcohol.
Floyd noted his behavioral changes include better decision-making, and a change in the friends with whom he associates, including positive people who make good decisions.
Kelly was asked why Floyd is a good bet to continue on the straight and narrow.
"Look, I'm around 18- to 21-year-olds every day for 22 years," Kelly offered. "I have to use some of my own instincts as to whether I think someone is sincere, humbled, and really understands that he had to make some changes. [Outside] information is good because I wanted to hear about other things out there that I needed to be aware of, but I think really it came down to: he followed through with the things I thought he needed to do to change his life.
"I have to tell you, it was also my one-on-one meetings with him. Look, I'm sitting here with him. We're attached in this. For me, I had to feel he was sincere and would make those changes in his life or we wouldn't be at this point today."
"I really felt with Mike, that he had made that life-changing decision," Kelly continued. "That was a gut feeling on my part; then it was other observations from people that were a lot closer to him on a day-to-day basis. All of that in its totality led me to the decision that I made in reinstating him."
Does Kelly believe his reputation is at stake should Floyd run afoul of the law as a senior?
"Reputation?," he said. "No, I think I've been disappointed in the past by others. I don't think that's going to happen here."
All in or all outKelly noted throughout the late-spring and summer months that with one mistake, "he doesn't play here," and that Floyd's reinstatement would be full (no games missed) or not at all.
Floyd avoided said final mistake, and he will not miss a game due to suspension this fall. Since full parameters of his reinstatement process were not revealed, program outsiders know only the following:
- Floyd was not allowed to participate in spring practice
- He was allowed to participate in all non-mandatory summer workouts with his teammates
- He must live on campus as a senior and has been through two forms of non-AA counseling
- He must continue to "make better decisions going forward."
Not exactly the Trials of Job ...
Predictably, Kelly was asked why his star receiver won't endure the logical deterrent of game(s) suspension this fall.
"They have to make concrete changes in their life for it to make an impact," Kelly said of game suspensions of which he's employed in the past. "If they continue to run with the wrong people ... if they don't make changes in their lives, it doesn't matter how many games you suspend them. It puts them back in the same position and those things had to happen first (for Floyd)."
Asked about the obvious appearance of a star system applying to Floyd's reinstatement, Kelly never wavered in his defiance.
"I don't know how to respond to that other than they'd have to be around my team meetings; around our players," he offered. "There has to be integrity in what you do. If this is all just selling out just to win games, I'm out of this business. There has to be more than just winning."
"I get it, I have to win games," he continued of his job descriptions bottom-line. "But I also have to have the fulfillment that I have to impact young mens' lives in a positive way. Those that don't believe that, I'm not going to change that. They don't know who I am and they don't know what I talk about on a day-to-day basis."
Michael Floyd's day-to-day presence and final opportunity will better Notre Dame's on-field product this fall. The rest is up to him.
"When it's fun time, it's fun time," Floyd said of his well-publicized jovial behavior in his free time, at practice, and on football Saturdays. "But when the chips are down, I'm ready to go."
His coach and University's fans are banking on it.
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