Last season as one of the top defensive players in the country, Tyrann Mathieu was the only player from that side of the ball among the five finalists for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
In what is nothing less than a shocking and significant development, the player nicknamed the Honey Badger will have no shot at repeating that feat or, more importantly, helping LSU defend its SEC title.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, head coach Les Miles announced that the All-American cornerback is no longer on the team after violating team policy. What that specific violation was has yet to be revealed.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said in a statement. “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 was one of three players suspended for one game last season, reportedly for failing a drug test. The drug in question was allegedly synthetic marijuana.
Suffice to say, this is a huge blow for the Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll and No. 4 in our attempt at preseason prognostication. Already somewhat thin at the position thanks to the departure of fellow All-American corner Morris Claiborne, Mathieu’s departure leaves a gaping and inexperienced hole in the secondary.
Mathieu’s loss will also be felt on special teams. Last season as a sophomore, Mathieu returned two punts for touchdowns and finished fourth in the nation in returns with a 15.6 average.
It appears someone else will have to ease the load for a newly-minted starter under center and a Heisman Trophy contender, at least in the very early portion of the season.
According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Stanford head coach David Shaw has deemed it “unlikely” running back Bryce Love will play in the season opener Friday against Kansas State. Love sustained what was described as a lower-body injury at some point during summer camp.
The good news for the program and the player is, after the opener, the Cardinal goes on a bye before hosting 20th-ranked USC Sept. 17.
Wilner writes that “Love… is considered central to eighth-ranked Stanford’s efforts to take the pressure off new quarterback Ryan Burns and tailback Christian McCaffrey.” Burns has thrown one career pass and will be making his starting debut against K-State.
Last season, Love averaged 7.8 yards on his 29 carries. He added 15 receptions for 250 yards, and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
South Carolina has seen one of the most experienced members of its secondary not only leave the program but the sport as well.
Rico McWilliams has decided to leave the Gamecocks and give up football, first-year USC head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday. No reason was given for the decision.
McWilliams had started 18 the past three seasons, but began to tumble down the depth chart in the spring and failed to gain much ground in summer camp. He had left camp early on for what were described as personal reasons, but eventually returned.
“I am back with the team and have to stay focused,” the cornerback said just three days ago.
As a redshirt junior last season, McWilliams started 10 of USC’s 12 games, the lone exceptions being the contests against Georgia and Texas A&M. He was credited with 32 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman wide receiver Christian Owens had left his team as well. A three-star 2015 signee, Owens didn’t play as a true freshman.
Via social media, Jim Harbaugh has attempted to walk back some of his strong talk.
Monday, the Michigan head coach was asked to comment on one of his former San Francisco 49er players, Colin Kaepernick, who kicked up quite the controversy this past week by sitting down during the playing of the national anthem to protest what he believes to be the mistreatment of African-Americans in this country. Not surprisingly, the outspoken Harbaugh didn’t mince many words.
“I acknowledge his right to do that, but I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” the coach said.
A short time later, Harbaugh took to Twitter to offer a clarification that he had no issue with Kaepernick’s motivation, merely his methods.
Even as Baylor looks to put a tumultuous offseason in the rearview mirror, the football team simply can’t get away from the dark cloud hanging over the program.
Interim head coach Jim Grobe announced Monday that Chance Waz has been suspended for the Bears’ first two games of the upcoming season. The only reason given was unspecified disciplinary issues.
The suspension will cost the defensive back games against Northwestern State and SMU. Waz will be eligible to return for the Sept. 16 game against Rice.
After playing in 11 games as a true freshman in 2014, Waz started 11 of the 13 games in which he played last season. He was again projected as a starting safety entering summer camp.
Speaking of BU starters, Ishmael Zamora is still listed as a first-team wide receiver on the final preseason depth chart released by the Bears Monday. Zamora was caught on video beating his dog with a belt and kicking it, and was ultimately charged with misdemeanor animal abuse.
Grobe said he’s still awaiting the university’s decision on what if any punishment Zamora may be facing as a result of the incident.