LSU Head Coach Les Miles did it with star quarterback Ryan Perilloux four years ago and now he’s done it again.
One of the most recognizable faces on the LSU football team, and maybe the face of college football, is no longer an LSU Tiger. Miles has dismissed Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu from the football program for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said. “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.”
Rumors circulated when Miles moved his Friday press conference from 6 pm to noon. The Tiger program’s worst nightmare was true. And it’s not because they’re losing an outstanding football player.
“It’s hard because we all love Tyrann,” Miles said. “We are going to miss him.
“This issue is bad for one guy. An adjustment needs to be made. I think this is a quality, quality guy that had some behavior issues. I really think this is a redirect that will benefit him greatly. This is an opportunity for him to improve and put self in better position in the future.”
Tweeted teammate Brad Wing: “This weather suits the day.”
The Tigers enter this season as a favorite to reach the national championship game in Miami. They were voted No. 1 in the coaches’ preseason poll and were expected to be right near the top of the AP college football poll when it is released Aug. 18, although their rank now may be lower than it would have been.
Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player last season and was a big-play monster at cornerback and on special teams. The All-American scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes and caused six fumbles and recovered four. His punt returns for touchdowns against Arkansas and Georgia helped swing momentum in the Tigers’ favor.
He was also suspended for a game last year for failing a drug test. The Tigers beat Auburn 45-10 without him.
This year, Mathieu was named preseason first team All-America by Sports Illustrated at defensive back and kick return specialist. He also made several preseason award lists, including the Bednarik, Walter Camp and Jim Thorpe watch lists.
Mathieu 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 the 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 experienced at cornerback as it was last season, when it had All-American Morris Claiborne and often used Mathieu as a nickleback roaming the field and making great individual plays. Tharold Simon is the other starter at cornerback, and second on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Jalen Collins and true freshman Jalen Mills. Look for Micah Eugene, nicknamed “Baby Badger” by teammates because of his knack for causing havoc on defense like Mathieu, to play a key role this season.
Mathieu recently said this year he would stop all social media when the season started.
“I respect Coach, and whatever decision he makes I go along with it,” Mathieu said. “There’s a lot of guys on this team who are deserving of the spotlight. I don’t have to be in it all the time and I’m fine with that.”
But now he won’t be in the spotlight at all.