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Saturday, August 11, 2012
Mathieu dismissal will affect LSU retailers

By Darren Rovell


Pat Randazza's heart dropped Friday when she heard the news: LSU was dismissing star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu from the team.

"It was coming from a fan's point of view," Randazza said.

But Randazza also has a business to think about. She owns four Purple and Gold shops in Louisiana that have made some nice money off the man they call the Honey Badger.

Thanks to Mathieu's incredible season last year, which resulted in his being named a Heisman finalist, Nike began shipping No. 7 LSU jerseys in December. By the time LSU was playing Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game, Mathieu's jersey was the most popular in college football, according to Fanatics, which sells more college jerseys than any other retailer in the country.

Many stores that sell LSU gear haven't received their Nike shipment in yet. But No. 7 was one of three numbers the company is producing on the advice of the school's athletic department (along with No. 8 for quarterback Zach Mettenberger and No. 42 for running back Michael Ford.

Nike does not reveal how many jerseys it makes of each number and often doesn't even tell retailers how many they will be getting of each. Garrett Moore, a sales associate at Tyger Gifts in Metairie, La., says the store is waiting for its shipment to see how many No. 7s it will now have to get rid of.

"I'm going to tell them it's the Patrick Peterson jersey again," Moore said, referencing the fact that many LSU stores sold extra Peterson jerseys when he turned pro a year early, thanks to Mathieu arriving on the scene.

Randazza says she doesn't expect to lose a lot of money from the absence of Honey Badger, who was dismissed for a violation of team policy just 22 days before LSU's season opener.

"I think we'll be fine," Randazza said. "I think I'm going to hold them and hopefully someone picks up that number next year."

Randazza says she has more than 50 jerseys in youth sizes that she will hold on to.

Meanwhile, LSU remarkably doesn't have anything it needs to change now that Mathieu isn't on the team.

He wasn't on the cover of the media guide; he wasn't on a poster or tickets; and he didn't even have a Heisman campaign.

That's not to say there wasn't interest in Mathieu. LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette told ESPN that Friday was the highest traffic day in more than four years on the school's official athletic website, LSUSports.net. Yes, more than the day of the national title game in January.

Bonnette says that there are pictures of Mathieu in certain places but that those won't come down.

"We will not erase Tyrann from our history," he said. "He was a part of what we have done here."