"We'll miss him, but we have to go on." -- Les Miles
Suspend your Honey Badger jokes and wallow in regret that we, as a nation, can't roll out the Honey Boo Boo Badger bits we've been crafting with such care: LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who appears on SI's preseason All-America team as both a corner and a return man, has been dismissed. Les Miles announced the decision at a Friday afternoon press conference.
It's a high-profile loss for the Bayou Bengals: Mathieu ranked as the country's top fumble-forcer in 2011 and was fourth in punt return yardage. He was honored following last season, his second on the field, as a Heisman Trophy finalist. And he's become a fan favorite through social media channels, not least for his willingness to openly needle opponents.
Mathieu sat out the Auburn game last season, serving a one-game suspension for what, according to LSU's drug policy, would have to have been his second positive drug test. LSU won 45-10.
Redshirt freshman Jalen Collins was listed as Mathieu's backup on the Tigers' post-spring depth chart; at punt return the No. 2 man is sophomore receiver Odell Beckham, whose play Miles praised during Friday's media session. Losing a starter of Mathieu's caliber is obviously a blow to a team hoping to contend for a national title, but a back-loaded schedule may help LSU adjust going forward. The Tigers open their season with three straight home games, hosting North Texas, Washington and Idaho before traveling to Auburn in Week 4 to begin league play. Of those early opponents, the Huskies pose the only real threat on paper, and they have to play in Death Valley at night. More ominous hurdles will arise once LSU gets into the thick of its never-cakey SEC West schedule, and an SEC East rotation that includes South Carolina.