Yesterday, Tyrann Mathieu’s situation at LSU was called by us “a confusing mess.” That hasn’t changed.
In fact, if anything, the situation’s become even more baffling. How? Les Miles opened his mouth. Whodathunkit?
Amid rumors that LSU had closed the door to a possible Honey Badger return — rumors fueled and then doused by people in the school’s administration — Miles spoke to the media and made it apparent that the door might actually remain open for Mathieu to return:
“I am not in any way speculating. He will not be on this football team this year. I guarantee you. That’s a fact. I have no idea beyond that.”
Of course, this is the same coach who said last Friday that Mathieu “will not be back” and that “things are spelled out that we can do.” The last part of that comment should have told us all that Miles and LSU were hoping to find a loophole. Maybe flunking X amount of drug tests could mean “dismissal” from the Tiger team only for a year!
Now, to the average Joe, dismissal means dismissal, not suspension. But when a Heisman candidate’s place on the squad is in jeopardy, dismissal can apparently mean suspension after all.
Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett Louisiana grabbed a copy of LSU’s substance abuse policy and found that while a third positive drug test forces “a one-year suspension from competition.” According to The Baton Rouge Advocate, if a player returns after a year away the policy also states the following:
“If institutional drug testing reveals the existence of drugs at any time, permanent ineligibility to participate at LSU will result.”
So, a third test means a one-year suspension and a positive test after reinstatement from that suspension would result in permanent ineligibility.
We’ve been calling for years for a uniform drug policy in the SEC and this situation only makes the need for one more obvious. (The presidents of the SEC’s schools have been against such a plan in the past, according to commissioner Mike Slive.) But rather than go off a tangent, we’ll just keep the focus on Mathieu.
According to NFL draft expert and Louisiana-native Mike Detillier, Mathieu visited McNeese State but “did not like it.” He also claims that the player’s family wants him to stay at LSU (where he and the family will have to pay his way).
Despite claims by some Louisiana writers yesterday that Mathieu would be announcing a decision today, it now appears that this situation will drag on a bit longer.
If you’re keeping track at home, the Honey Badger’s options are:
1. Transfer to an FCS school, play one year, and then declare for the NFL draft in 2013.
2. Transfer to another FBS school, sit out the 2012 season, and then play in 2013.
3. Stay at LSU as a student, sit out the 2012 season, and then play in 2013.
Only one of those options has 2013 NFL dollars attached to it and that’s the first option. For that reason, we expect that option to be the one Mathieu will eventually choose (though the longer the clock ticks, the better LSU’s chances get).
Mathieu can sit out a year, risk injury by playing another SEC season in 2013, and risk failing future drug tests — if he didn’t change his ways after two positive tests, it’s doubtful he’ll change them after a third — or he can hold his nose and play ball at an FCS school for four months and jump immediately to the professional ranks.
We’re not saying that’s what Mathieu should do. We’re saying that’s what most big-time athletes would do. And Mathieu is a big-time athlete.
But the door is still open at LSU…