It was Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly’s call to lift star receiver Michael Floyd’s suspension before his senior year. Given the Irish’s BCS expectations and Floyd’s value, it was the obvious choice.
Whether it was the right choice for a player with three alcohol- related brushes with the law in three years was a subject of debate.
As Floyd prepared this week for his final game in Notre Dame Stadium – today against Boston College – Kelly was more confident than ever that he’d made the right decision.
‘‘This is why I coach,” Kelly said. ‘‘I get hired and fired on wins, but what motivates me to coach and put all the time and effort that I’ve put into this, especially away from my family, is to see a young man change the course of his life, and see that on a day-to-day basis. It’s probably as rewarding as any singular victory. And that’s what Michael Floyd has done. That feels good as a coach that you can see a young man who is in a good place. Wasn’t in such a good place, but now he is, and that’s important.”
Thirty-nine seniors will be honored before today’s game, none more prolific than Floyd, who owns school records in career receptions (248), receiving yards (3,461), touchdown receptions (35) and 100-yard receiving games (17).
Floyd dedicated himself to being a better all-around player this year, improving as a blocker and volunteering to return punts while again putting up impressive numbers.
‘‘It makes me feel great knowing people notice that I am making a big change in my life,” Floyd said. ‘‘I am maturing and becoming a man. That’s an experience you have going through college.”
Floyd’s eligibility soon will be toast. The NFL awaits. It’s more complicated for Manti Te’o. If the junior linebacker forgoes his senior year, he’s also expected to be a first-round draft pick.
Junior tight end Tyler Eifert has seen his NFL stock spike and faces a similar decision. Which juniors opt to leave and which seniors return for a fifth year will be a subplot on a day likely best remembered for being Floyd’s last home game.
‘‘There’s been some ups and downs like everyone else,” Floyd said of his career. ‘‘Unfortunately, mine were a little bit bigger. That’s in the past. It’s behind me now, and I’m just focused right now on coming out with a ‘W’ for my last game playing in Notre Dame Stadium.”