Friday morning, LSU coach Les Miles announced All-America cornerback and ace returner Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from the team for breaking team rules. It's at least his second disciplinary issue -- he also missed time in 2011 for a drug violation. Moments before the announcement, as suspension rumors flew all over the place, Joe Schad reported Mathieu had already been looking for a new place to play.
LSU is ranked No. 1 in the preseason Coaches Poll and expected to show up in the top three of all other polls as well.
At corner, he'll be replaced by Jalen Collins, who played in only one 2011 game as a freshman and was expected to play nickel back. Kick return duties will likely fall to Odell Beckham or Russell Shepard.
Mathieu's loss for three games (as had also been rumored) wouldn't have significantly damaged their national title hopes, as only one of their first three games (against North Texas, Washington, and Idaho, all at home) was at risk anyway. But that doesn't really matter now.
Beyond the depth chart damage, it's a major distraction for a loaded team, a blow to a secondary already depleted by the loss of top draft pick Mo Claiborne, and another mark against Mathieu, who'd recently pledged to stop tweeting once the season starts as a sign of his commitment to the program.
He'll likely transfer to a lower-level school for one season and then enter the NFL Draft as a high pick, but LSU just lost both a playmaking defender and its most feared ball-handler.
The official release:
BATON ROUGE -- Tyrann Mathieu has been dismissed from the LSU football team for violation of team policy, head coach Les Miles announced on Friday.
"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.
"It's hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him."
Mathieu, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and the nation's top defensive player a year ago, played in 26 games for the Tigers during his two years, racking up 133 total tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss and four interceptions. He also forced 11 fumbles, which ranks first in school history and seventh in NCAA history, to go with eight fumble recoveries.
Mathieu scored four touchdowns for the Tigers, two on punt returns and two on fumble returns.
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