LSU moving on without Heisman finalist Mathieu

By Alex Cassara

The Daily Reveille, Louisiana State U. via UWIRE

With a viral video nickname, blonde mohawk and penchant for causing on-field chaos, LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, garnered All-American honors at both cornerback and return specialist and won the Bednarik Award given to college football’s best defensive player.

But Mathieu won’t be dazzling on field for the Tigers anymore.

LSU dismissed the junior from the football team after repeated violations of team policy, LSU Coach Les Miles and Athletic Director Joe Alleva announced Friday.

“Difficult times, sometimes you have to deliver bad news,” Miles said. “We have a simple policy here, for behavior. And consequences are pretty spelled out and defined. We did what we could do, but Tyrann Mathieu is no longer on our team.”

Neither Miles nor Alleva would elaborate on the reasons for the dismissal, but when asked if the release was a result of a violation of either school or team policy, Miles answered, “Both. It’s synonymous.”

“It was a longstanding rule set that was adhered to very fully … and very comfortably administered,” Miles said. “So I comply and agree that’s right.”

It was clear that this wasn’t the first time Mathieu violated the policy as Alleva called it an ongoing issue. It’s unclear if his dismissal was drug related, but Mathieu was one of three players “withheld from play” from the Auburn game last season after allegedly failing a drug test for synthetic marijuana — a failure that LSU never confirmed.

“It’s like the speed limit,” Alleva said. “You go over the speed limit, you’re breaking the law. … He’s been over the speed limit.”

“I can only tell you that we extended ourselves personally and professionally to him,” Miles said of the team’s approach with Mathieu. “I think … he’s really improved and has the opportunity to take some positive steps, even away from LSU.”

Miles said the team would help in any way it could, should Mathieu be interested in transferring to another university. Mathieu, who retains two years of eligibility, would have to sit out a year in order to play for a Division I program.

“I think that he would be interested first in playing right away next year and that would need to come from maybe a step down [to a lower division],” Miles said.

Mathieu became a superstar last season for the national runners-up Tigers when he intercepted two passes, forced six fumbles and recovered five, and scored four touchdowns in his first season as a full-time starter.

“Being an athlete is a privilege,” Alleva said. “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. But I told him this morning that he has the rest of his life. His life is still ahead of him and he still has a tremendous opportunity to do good things and I encouraged him to do those good things and I think he will.”

Alleva said the decision to release Mathieu was made Thursday night, and Miles said they spoke with Mathieu on Friday morning to notify him of the dismissal.

Both contemplated their words while fielding questions at Friday’s news conference. When asked if Mathieu’s presence team had a positive or negative effect on the team, Miles paused before providing a telling answer.

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

In regards to replacing Mathieu’s on-field production, Miles said the team has defensive backs similar to the Mathieu mold who will have to step up, and that sophomore wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be a capable punt returner.

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