Any chance of an uneventful August ended Friday when coach Les Miles announced that Heisman Trophy finalist and Bednarik Award recipient Tyrann Mathieu had been dismissed from the LSU football team.
According to Miles, Mathieu violated team and school policies. Mathieu was suspended for the Auburn game last season for, reportedly, a failed drug test. There are numerous reports that this dismissal is a result of violation of the school's drug policy. LSU officials will not be specific about the violation.
"We have a simple policy for behavior," said Miles at a press conference Friday afternoon. "It is all spelled out. Tyrann is no longer on the team because he violated team policies. It is time for Tyrann to redirect. He still has a bright future and he can accomplish all the goals he has set for himself.
"Tyrann now has the opportunity to move forward and put himself in an even better position. I think a redirect will really benefit him. We have lost a quality person and a great teammate. We'll miss that guy. But, it's just like an injury. This football team will go out and fill the void."
Mathieu had been a standout performer in his first two seasons. Besides winning the Bednarik Award and finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting, Mathieu was a first-team All-American and the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2011.
The SEC championship game Most Valuable Player, Mathieu finished the season with 76 tackles, including 7½ behind the line of scrimmage. He broke up nine passes and intercepted two more while playing both cornerback and nickel back.
In his 26-game career, Mathieu created 14 turnovers - eight fumble recoveries, four interceptions and two forced fumbles recovered by a teammate. In two seasons, Mathieu forced 11 fumbles and recovered eight fumbles.
Moreover, Mathieu turned around the Tigers' games against Arkansas and Georgia last season with punt returns for touchdowns. He averaged 15.6 yards on 27 punt returns a year ago. Mathieu was a preseason nominee for four national awards this season.
Now, Mathieu is a player without a school. According to Director of Athletics Joe Alleva, Mathieu lost his scholarship to LSU. The decision to dismiss Mathieu was made Thursday night.
"This is heartbreaking because he's a good kid," Alleva said. "But, if you break the rules, you have to pay for it. Being a (college) athlete is a privilege. You have to follow the rules to take advantage of that privilege. Unfortunately, (Tyrann) didn't and he doesn't have that privilege here anymore."
Mathieu was projected to be an early NFL draft choice in 2013. He would have to sit out a year if he transferred to another Division I- FBS school. Mathieu would be immediately eligible at a Division I - FCS school.
"This is a hard day," Alleva said. "One of the hardest things you have to do to an individual is take away an opportunity. We are here to provide opportunities. I don't like it when an opportunity is taken away."
Redshirt freshman Jalen Collins and true freshman Jalen Mills were the second-unit cornerbacks behind Mathieu and Tharold Simon, who was also suspended for the Auburn game last season. Miles wouldn't identify by name which players would take over Mathieu's spot in the secondary.