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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says suspensions disciplinary, educational

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood was suspended Sunday for violating team rules. | AP

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood was suspended Sunday for violating team rules. | AP

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:20AM

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly wanted to discuss his four captains, who were named Monday. He raved about how linebacker Manti Te’o, tight end Tyler Eifert,
defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore and offensive lineman Zack Martin perfectly represent the lofty standards he has for his players, on and off the field.

But Kelly wound up spending much of his time Tuesday talking about those players who haven’t lived up to those standards. After suspending quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese one game each for their arrests in
May stemming from an off-campus party, Kelly on Sunday banned starting tailback Cierre Wood and reserve defensive end Justin Utupo for the first two games for violating unspecified team rules.

Kelly did his best to put a positive spin on the punishments.

‘‘Any time I suspend somebody from the football team, it’s perceived as discipline, and I understand that,’’ he said. ‘‘But these are educational opportunities for me. I look at it as, ‘How are we going to get these young men to live up to the standards I have for this football team?’ ’’

Kelly said that the suspensions were solely his decision and that Notre Dame’s residential life office wasn’t involved. He also said each situation is handled on its own merits. Rees and Calabrese got just one game for their arrests, and former receiver Michael Floyd was banished for the spring and summer — but didn’t miss any games — for a DUI
arrest in 2011, his third
alcohol-related offense. Floyd was reinstated for training camp and went on to become the Irish’s all-time leading receiver, making 100 catches last season.

‘‘I have to weigh all the factors involved,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘There are different circumstances in each one. The ultimate goal is we want them all to turn out like Michael Floyd’s situation, where they make life decisions to change the way they are. We want better citizens. We want more accountable citizens. We want people representing our program in the right way. So there isn’t a matrix where I just go down and say, ‘OK, well, that equals two.’ ’’

Kelly downplayed any perceived discipline problems on his team and said there was no sense of concern setting in among the other players.

‘‘As a head coach with 18- to 22-year-olds, you
hope that everybody makes good decisions all the time,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘I hope my son makes good decisions all the time, my daughter. We get disappointed, but we also know they’re young and they want to learn from their mistakes.’’

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