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.