Just over two months ago, Notre Dame's football team landed the biggest recruit of the 2011 season when Michael Floyd elected to forgo the National Football League Draft and return for his senior season.
Star tight end Kyle Rudolph took the opposite path, leaving school a year early, which made Floyd's choice to return critical to sustaining the Irish offensive firepower.
Now, Notre Dame's football team and its senior standout wide receiver are again at a crossroads, and much sooner than either expected.
Floyd was arrested Sunday night for driving while intoxicated after failing a series of sobriety tests. Following an indefinite suspension from the team imposed by head coach Brian Kelly, Floyd's future with the Irish is in serious doubt.
Assuming that Floyd navigates the legal procedures relatively unscathed (by no means a sure thing), he will also face disciplinary action from the school.
The primary cog driving most of the decisions will not be Kelly, but rather Notre Dame's Office of Residence Life. "ResLife," as it is not-so-fondly known amongst the student body, is the ultimate arbiter in cases of student discipline, including student arrests.
The administrative organization will review Floyd's case in the coming weeks and make a ruling on the punishment to be meted out.
Will Michael Floyd play football for the Irish in 2011?
When dealing with this particular body, both the Irish football team and Floyd can only hope for the best, but must prepare for the worst.
As it stands right now, Floyd is playing against a stacked deck. This is his second alcohol-related offense in 14 months, the first of which was a citation as a minor-in-possession.
ResLife is likely to view it as a trend of poor decision-making, and Floyd will have an uphill battle trying to prove another incident won't happen.
Recent precedent puts an unfavorable light on Floyd's future in blue and gold. Notre Dame tailback Rashon Powers-Neal had a similar offense in the fall of 2005 and was suspended for the remainder of that football season, including the bowl game.
In December of 2008, tight end Will Yeatman chose to transfer rather than serve a suspension, also for an alcohol-related arrest.
On top of that, Notre Dame's regard for its image and reputation as sacrosanct, especially with regard to avoiding even a whiff of preferential treatment towards football players, does not bode well for a forgiving verdict.
All athletes, including football players, are kept as tightly connected to other students as possible. Notre Dame has no separate athlete dorms, and until just recently, all athletes ate in the student dining halls (the football team now has a training table).
The basic message is the same: no one is above the school.
So, this leaves Floyd to make the best of a very bad situation. Looking at his options for staying with Notre Dame, a best-case scenario is that ResLife chooses to suspend him for the remainder of the spring and summer (probation would be a shock, given precedent).
A worst-case scenario is that he is suspended for the entire fall semester, eliminating any chance of seeing the field in 2011.
The time line for these events becomes important when considering Floyd's NFL options. It's unclear how soon ResLife will hear Floyd's case and reach a decision, and in the meantime the Supplemental Draft for the NFL occurs in April.
By which time, Floyd will need to make his own decision to stay or go.
The possibility of an extended labor stoppage for the NFL means that Floyd won't want to be left out in the cold without a team should ResLife suspend him for the entire fall.
When all the pieces are put together, they point toward to a vacated spot atop the Irish WR depth chart. To move forward, Notre Dame needs to start the search for a new big-play receiver as soon as possible.
After that, all that's left to do is hope for the best.