Notre Dame opens the season on Saturday with a game in Ireland against Navy, but instead of people talking about Everett Golson or Manti Te'o, the focus is on controversial comments made by former Irish running back Allen Pinkett.
Pinkett is now a broadcaster for the team and during a spot on a Chicago radio station said he thought it would be good if Notre Dame had more "bad citizens." He attempted to somewhat clarify his remark, but it didn't change the general tone.
"I don’t want any mass murders or rapists," Pinkett said. "I want guys that maybe get caught drinking that are underage, or guys that maybe got arrested because they got in a fight at a bar, or guys that are willing to cuss in public and don’t mind the repercussions of it. That’s the type of criminal I’m talking about."
The damage was already done, however. He's now in the spotlight and will present a distraction during a special weekend for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have underachieved in recent years, winning no more than eight games since 2006. Brian Kelly has gone 8-5 in each of his first two seasons as head coach, giving hope that progress is being made, albeit slowly.
What will be the bigger focus this weekend?
The reason Notre Dame hasn't always lived up to the hype isn't a lack of bad citizens. A combination of sky-high expectations on a yearly basis and players not developing into the stars they were supposed to become at time of recruitment has been the biggest problem.
For every Michael Floyd, who was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft earlier in the year, there have been a handful of players that never reached their true potential. There's plenty of blame to go around for that, but it has nothing to do with their character.
You have to wonder what provoked somebody who works so closely with the team to make such out-of-line remarks. He's free to believe whatever he wants, but expressing beliefs that aren't in line with the Notre Dame way was a questionable decision from the outset.
Whatever Pinkett's intentions, he must now deal with the consequences. One of them being taking some joy out of the overseas trip for the Irish, especially the players who now have to answer questions about what he said.
Unfortunately, the comments will probably continue to linger for quite some time.