Tigers fans react

Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal not a shock to sampling of LSU students, fans

Updated: August 12, 2012, 4:15 PM ET
By David Helman | GeauxTigerNation

BATON ROUGE, La. -- At this point, it's going to take something pretty big to ruffle the LSU faithful.

[+] EnlargeTyrann Mathieu
John David Mercer/US PresswireLSU students said the football team needs to come together after the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu.
Sure, the news of Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from LSU hit hard on Friday afternoon. The Tigers lost a game-changing turnover machine, and Tigers fans nationwide lost their talisman -- the Honey Badger, a cocky little everyman who inspired tenacity as well as T-shirts.

But this is old hat for anyone who has followed Les Miles' tenure in Baton Rouge. Whether it was the repeated legal issues of former five-star quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, culminating in his eventual dismissal, or the firestorm surrounding last year's starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was arrested after a late-night bar fight, this is a situation that Tigers fans have endured all too often.

The Honey Badger has put himself in questionable situations before, having been suspended along with running back Spencer Ware and cornerback Tharold Simon for reportedly failing a drug test last October.

With all that experience in mind, LSU fans were undoubtedly disappointed Friday, but not dejected.

"He's a very gifted player, but when you do stupid things you have to pay the consequences," said Luke Michael Gibson, a sophomore biology major at LSU. "I know we have a great team, and he was a great asset. But I don't think it's going to have too terrible of an impact."

The disappointment was evident on the faces of fans across the campus area when the news hit. But with Mathieu's troubled past involving suspensions and Twitter snafus, his dismissal seemed like something that was bound to happen eventually.

That can be evidenced by Miles' comments during the noon press conference.

"We have simple policy here on behavior, and consequences are spelled out and defined," Miles said. "We did what we could do."

Comments like that don't sit well with many LSU fans, who say it's hard to understand how a scholarship athlete could be given multiple chances and still fall short.

"Everyone's a little dispirited right now, but at the same time, how can you deal with someone on your team who is not going to follow all the rules," said Ashton Martin, a senior who is majoring in nutrition. "You've got to learn from your mistakes; obviously he didn't learn from his mistakes."

That doesn't even factor in the notoriety Mathieu brought to this program and its fanbase. The cornerback was the subject of a multiple magazine features, he was a returning Heisman Trophy finalist and his Honey Badger moniker adorns T-shirts across the country. A quick perusal of LSU's on-campus apparel store Friday still had LSU replica jerseys featuring No. 7 -- Mathieu's old number.

"He was such a big asset to the team ... and he had such a huge future ahead of him, and now it's all gone. It's disappointing," said Devan Peterson, a kinesiology senior at LSU.

Disappointing indeed, but not surprising for Eric Hedrick, who owns Bengals and Bandits -- an independent LSU clothing store across the street from campus. Hedrick said his store has never carried Honey Badger apparel, despite the onslaught of popularity, for just such a reason.

"I never, ever felt good about the Honey Badger. I told people that I always knew it was going to end bad ... and I think it ended the way a lot of people thought it would," Hedrick said. "The last thing we want is to have any kind of drama going into the season, especially with the way the team is built and stacked up for the 2012 campaign."

Mathieu's dismissal gives the Tigers a massive August obstacle for the second straight year. But with the expectations sky high for the season, there's not much time to dwell on it. Miles stressed the importance of moving on early on Friday, and his constituents echoed that sentiment. The Tigers have a season to prepare for -- Honey Badger or not.

"This team is going through so much right now, and they really need to gather together, rally together and hopefully get past this," Peterson said.

David Helman | email

Reporter, RecruitingNation