LSU kicks 'Honey Badger' off team for violating rules

Friday, Aug 10, 2012 1:49 PM
Last updated 9:21 PM
  • Follow College

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, was kicked off the team for an unspecified rule violation.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, was kicked off the team for an unspecified rule violation.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off Louisiana State University’s football team Friday for breaking an athletic department rule, a blow to the Tigers’ national title hopes three weeks before their season opener.

The junior defensive back – nicknamed Honey Badger for his tenacious style, small stature (5-foor-9, 175 pounds) and blonde streak of hair – rose from obscurity to become one of college football’s biggest stars last season.

He was a sleeper Heisman candidate as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and reached the BCS title game. But almost as quickly as Mathieu rose to fame and became the face of LSU football, the phenomenon ended in Death Valley.

“We’ll miss the guy,” coach Les Miles said at a news conference. “The football team’s got to go on. We’ll have to fill the void.”

Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was dismissed. His Tigers are still among the favorites to win the national title this year, even without Mathieu.

Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Mathieu, who was suspended for a game in 2011 after failing a drug test, violated an athletic department rule and had his scholarship revoked.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, citing an unidentified person close to the player, reported that Mathieu failed another drug test.

School policy allows for a player to lose his scholarship even without another positive test if he does not fulfill all the terms of university probation

“Being an athlete is a privilege,” Alleva said. “It’s a privilege and you have to follow the rules to take advantage of that privilege. And unfortunately, he doesn’t have that privilege here anymore. He really is a good kid. It’s a shame.”

Alleva said the violation did not involve law enforcement and that the university had been trying to help Mathieu work through some unspecified issues.

“He’s had help,” Alleva said. “And we’ve been trying to help him all along in everything. We do everything we can to help these kids.”

Mathieu could stay at LSU and pay tuition, but Alleva said that was unrealistic.

“He’s not going to stay in school,” he said.

The Tigers are No. 1 in the coaches’ preseason poll. The AP college football poll will be released Aug. 18

The Tigers open the season at home Sept. 1 against North Texas. Their only big nonconference test comes the next week when Washington and star quarterback Keith Price visit Tiger Stadium. LSU opens SEC play on the road Sept. 22 at Auburn and renews its rivalry with Alabama on Nov. 3 in Death Valley.

“I called on the leadership of this team to understand that these things happen,” Miles said

The 20-year-old Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season and was a big-play machine at cornerback and special teams. The All-American scored four touchdowns <0x2014> two on punt returns and two on fumble returns <0x2014> intercepted two passes, caused six fumbles and recovered four.

LSU went 13-0 on its way to the BCS title game, and it seemed every time the Tigers needed to a game-changing play, Mathieu delivered.

The best examples came in the Tigers’ final two victories. Against Arkansas to end the regular season, LSU trailed 14-7 when Mathieu brought back a punt 92 yards for a touchdown late in the first half.

The next week in the SEC title game against Georgia, the Bulldogs led 10-0 when Mathieu scored on a 62-yard punt return.

But as good as Mathieu was, LSU showed it could get by without him. He was suspended for the Auburn game and the Tigers won 45-10. The Tigers also dealt with several suspensions early in the season, but nothing slowed them down until they lost the BCS championship game against Alabama.

“He gave us a lot of examples that we can learn from and I think that he’s a quality, quality guy who had a behavior issue and that’s it,” Miles said. “Certainly the overview of his time with us is positive.”

Mathieu, a New Orleans native, has two years of eligibility left and could transfer, but he would have to sit out this season if he went to another school in major college football. If he moved down a level, to FCS, he could play right away.

“I can’t imagine he would be here and not want to transfer and go play football,” Miles said. “We will help him in every way we can.”

LSU isn’t quite as deep at cornerback as it was last season, when it had All-American Morris Claiborne and often used Mathieu as a nickel back. Tharold Simon is the other starter opposite Mathieu. Second on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Jalen Collins and freshman Jalen Mills.

As for returning punts, Miles mentioned wide receiver Odell Beckham as a possible replacement for Mathieu.

Even without the Honey Badger, LSU is loaded with talent.

“The good news is we have good players” to fill the void left by Mathieu, Miles said.

Last season, LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in a regular-season matchup dubbed the Game of the Century. The two SEC rivals met again in the national championship but this time the Crimson Tide dominated, winning 21-0.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
KSL
130191
Points
KSL 08/10/12 - 02:02 pm
1
1
Good for LSU.

Good for LSU.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 08/10/12 - 02:06 pm
1
0
Vince Lombardi was wrong:

"Winning isn't the only thing."

PhiloPublius
386
Points
PhiloPublius 08/10/12 - 02:19 pm
1
0
Honey Badger don't care?

Honey Badger don't care?
then Honey Badger don't play.

justthefacts
22078
Points
justthefacts 08/10/12 - 03:04 pm
1
0
Long List

Guess he can join the evergrowing list of promising athletes who are throwing away a great opportunity. It's a shame.

Just My Opinion
5639
Points
Just My Opinion 08/10/12 - 03:29 pm
2
1
Just waiting on the guys who

Just waiting on the guys who usually condemn Coach Richt and say he's lost control of his team, and have them say that Coach Miles has lost control of LSU! Kids at other schools don't get kicked off the team for a "second" offense, assuming that the offense is the same type as the first. So, we can presume that this offense was more egregious.

Now, in light of the comments Steve Spurrier said about his young back-up quarterback being arrested for underage DUI and receiving NO team/school discipline at all, we can also presume that if the Honey Badger had been a Gamecock, then he'd still be playing!

Jake
32628
Points
Jake 08/10/12 - 06:24 pm
0
0
Weed

Me thinks the badger has given up on honey and prefers the weed. Too bad, he is quite a talent but you have to play by the rules when GIVEN a scholarship.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 08/10/12 - 11:20 pm
0
0
Jake, that was too funny! The

Jake, that was too funny! The kid was good, but LSU like Alabama always has someone ready to step in and play at the level expected in the SEC.

etlinks
20970
Points
etlinks 08/11/12 - 05:48 am
1
0
jmo

This article is not about GA. or SC football. LSU let Mathieu go and good for them. Oct.6 will be here soon enough.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 08/11/12 - 11:29 am
0
0
LS WHO LS WHO
Unpublished

LS WHO LS WHO. Another wasted scholarship.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 08/11/12 - 11:34 am
0
0
You can't judge a book by it's cover.....
Unpublished

or can you? Playboy beside the Better Homes & Gardens? There is a judgement to be made and a subsequent purchase. Honey Badger was one of many "ego centric" spoiled little boys who can't wait for the camera to show him "winning the game". Not a team player. He is one of many. Some one set him on that course. Only two career paths available, pro sports or crime.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Ex-Augusta VA director paid $76k, retired

Under the terms of the contract, Rebecca Wiley agreed to dismiss any allegations against the VA of wrongful or unlawful conduct on the condition the agency pays her $76,006 to retire, restores 238 ...
Search Augusta jobs