LSU head coach Les Miles has dismissed the famed Honey Badger from the football team for violation of school and team rules.
Tyrann Mathieu electrified the game of college football last season, becoming a Heisman Trophy finalist on his way to helping LSU to a 13-0 record and BCS title game appearance.
Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was kicked off the team. When asked if it was a team rule or a school rule, the “Mad Hatter” replied “Both.” He said it was not a legal issue.
Mathieu served a one game suspension last season for failing a drug test, later said to be for the use of synthetic marijuana.
The Honey Badger gained his name and fame for being able to take the ball away, seemingly at will, from the opposition. That notion came crashing down in the BCS Championship Game however when Kevin Norwood, a reserve Alabama wide receiver, used him like a roll of toilet paper, going over top of him for multiple catches on his way to a career best game.
Bama fans most remember Mathieu for the cheap shot he delivered to former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first Bama-LSU matchup in Bryant-Denny Stadium. As the seconds ticked down in regulation, Kirkpatrick covered a punt, became tangled up with Mathieu, then received Mathieu’s fist in his throat. Cameras caught the whole transaction, but like the old WWF referees, the officials missed the whole thing. That one play personified LSU football for Alabama fans, making the 21-0 bludgeoning that came later in the season that much sweeter.
How important was the Mathieu to his team? He was an elusive punt returner and a pesky defender. But maybe more importantly, he was the face of the LSU defense, and maybe the program itself, on the way to one of the most dominate seasons in LSU history.
Matheiu personified LSU football, and in turn, the fanbase endeared itself to him. So how big is his loss? I’m torn somewhere between monumental and huge. The Tigers have depth, but gone is Maurice Claiborne, who allowed Matheiu to move around in nickel coverage while opposing quarterbacks avoided the All-American.
With Matheiu and Claiborne now both gone, the LSU secondary just got a little more suspect. There is still plenty of talent to go around, but the loss of the Honey Badger is similar to the void left by Javier Arenas at Alabama. There are other bodies, sure. But a punt returner and relentless defender in the same body don’t come around very often.
As for what’s next for Mathieu, we may see him enroll at a lower tier school, transfer to another division I program, or (most likely) see him declare for the NFL draft next spring.
Still, this is just another case where a player who has it all throws it all away because he can’t control his demons. It’s sad. But it couldn’t have happend to a bigger…or littler…jerk.
With the loss, at this hour it’s not clear if Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tim Brando or Brent Musberger, who all loved to say his name, repeatedly…even more than Tebow’s…have found the strength to go on.
But the line in Vegas is that a certain program in the SEC West is scrambling to get another renegade on their team, ordering a pair of hot pants practice shorts for him, just in case.