Honey Badger finds himself in a sticky situation
Last year, Tyrann Mathieu was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Today, he is without a team.
The LSU Tigers have dismissed Mathieu, last year’s Chuck Bednarik Award recipient as the nation’s top defensive player, after repeated violations of the team’s substance-abuse policy.
“Being an athlete is a privilege. You have to follow the rules to take advantage of that privilege and unfortunately, he doesn’t have that privilege here any more,” Athletic Director Joe Alleva said, calling this an ongoing issue.
This also means that LSU will be without “the privilege” of his services as well. The team made it to the national championship game last season before losing to Alabama. Currently, they are ranked as the preseason number one. A lot of this had to do with the “Honey Badger.” Mathieu lead the team in tackles last season. He also had seven for a loss and 1.5 sacks, despite being undersized.
This is not to mention the drastic effect he had in the return game, where he was a constant threat. The quality of play he brought to the table was especially impressive considering he played in the SEC, which is almost universally regarded as the best conference in college football.
How do you replace someone like that? The short answer is simply that you can’t. Mathieu is an elite player, a little reminiscent of a smaller Charles Woodson.
Still, his removal shoyuldn’t come as a surprise. This is his third substance-abuse violation at LSU. Last season, he tested positive for synthetic marijuana and was suspended. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, it is believed that this violation is along the same lines. Mathieu had been in drug counseling since the spring.
So what’s next for Mathieu? He is a redshirt-eligible junior, so he could transfer and still play two years after sitting out the mandatory season. The supplemental draft has passed, so he cannot turn pro before this season.
The last remaining option is to transfer to a lower level of play, like the FCS. This way, he could play immediately. This seems the most likely, as he is expected to declare for the NFL draft after the season.
“I can’t imagine he would be here and not want to transfer and go play football,” LSU Coach Les Miles said. “We will help him in every way we can.”
On can’t help but wonder what these developments will do to his draft stock. He was expected to be a top-five pick in 2013. Now, his character concerns, and inability to move past them have grown too large to ignore. Still, his talent should keep him in the first round, especially considering whoever takes him should get a good recommendation for Miles.
“For the team, we lost a quality person. We enjoyed working him. He was a great teammate.”
It definitely looks like the first big play this season for the Louisiana State Tigers was for a loss.
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