Not exactly unfamiliar with off-field issues this year, the top-ranked LSU Tigers could be faced with the most devastating of distractions ahead of their SEC West showdown with Auburn this weekend.
Both Randy Rosetta of TigersSportsDigest.com and the Daily Reveille are reporting that cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and running back Spencer Ware could/will be facing suspensions for Saturday’s game against the Tigers. The Daily Reveille, the school’s student newspaper, reports that the suspensions would be for failed drug tests. Rosetta tweets that as many as three LSU starters could be suspended for the game; the identity of the third player was not identified by Rosetta, but the Associated Press is reporting that it is cornerback Tharold Simon. Simon is listed as the backup to Mathieu on the latest LSU depth chart.
While the one-game suspension is bad enough, the situation could get a lot worse for the Tigers as the student paper writes that the one-game suspensions could turn into multi-game suspensions. Such a development could place the players’ availability for the huge showdown with Alabama Nov. 5 in jeopardy.
Attempts by CFT to reach the school for comment on the reported development have been unsuccessful. Head coach Les Miles has a regularly scheduled press conference at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday; we’re assuming these reports will come up during the course of the evening.
The loss of Mathieu and Ware would be a tremendous blow to the Tigers, although more so in two weeks in Tuscaloosa than this weekend in Death Valley. Mathieu is one of the top defensive players in the country and has been mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate. Ware leads the team in rushing with 512 yards.
UPDATED 2:59 p.m. ET: A school official who requested his name not be used would neither confirm nor deny to CFT — even off-the-record — that players had been suspended for failing drug tests. The official said such issues are handled internally and “will be addressed at the proper time by the proper individuals.”
UPDATED 3:42 p.m. ET: “Coach Miles is handling it as an internal issue, within the team and university, but we cannot comment further at this time,” said LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette.
UPDATED 7:31 p.m. ET: In his regularly scheduled press conference, Miles would not directly address the reports that three players have been suspended for failing a drug test, nor confirm the names of those involved, but did say the allegations were “left of center“.
“There’s a process I’ve got to go through and I’m not going to short-cut and once there’s information to share, I will,” Miles said. “It’s not information I’m going to respond to. I think this is the right way to go.