ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03: Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the LSU Tigers walks off thye field after earning the MVP trophy in their 42-10 win over the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The stunning rise of Tyrann Mathieu at LSU has ended with a stunning fall. Les Miles and Joe Alleva held a press conference today to announce that the Honey Badger has played his last down as a Tiger. Here is a quote from the official press release:
Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from the LSU football team for violation of team policy, head coach Les Miles announced on Friday.
"This is a very difficult day for our team," Miles said. "We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences.
"It's hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him."
Mathieu, as you may remember, missed a game last year for testing positive for synthetic marijuana. It's not unreasonable to suspect that today's dismissal is a consequence from similar behavior, but no one at the school is giving a reason beyond what is in the release.
Mathieu was not well known heading into last fall, though he did appear on the FWAA freshman All-American team for his work in 2010. His ability to make big plays at big times and game changing return skills made him a star last year and propelled him all the way to New York as a Heisman finalist. The season capped off with a forgettable performance in the BCS National Championship Game, a contest in which Alabama QB A.J. McCarron earned offensive MVP honors throwing against Mathieu and the rest of the LSU secondary.
It's hard to say whether he'll be missed most on defense or special teams. He is not an elite cover corner, as the aforementioned bowl game showed, but he did make his presence known through an uncanny ability to force turnovers. He was also a top-five punt returner nationally.
Obviously this is a big distraction, but the dismissal is actually taking place earlier relative to the season's start than last year's big distraction (the bar fight that got Jordan Jefferson suspended). LSU still has plenty of capable players in the secondary too. With that said, I think it will be more difficult to not skip any beats this time around. Jefferson never had a lock on his position, and Mathieu is better at what he does than Jefferson was at what he did.
Mathieu is done at the school and will almost certainly play a season at a I-A or D-II school before hitting next year's NFL Draft.