There are a few times each year where I use this space to lift my veil of objectivity and truly give a point of view that is based strictly from the mind of a fan.
I believe now is going to be one of those times.
Let me start by stating the obvious – I love the LSU Tigers.
I just do.
It sounds nerdy to say it in such strong words – but my allegiance to the school is one of the strongest and most loyal bonds that I have within the entire framework and structure of my adult life.
That’s the university I grew up wanting to attend and being able to call myself a graduate makes me a Tiger for life.
So with all of that said, I obviously have a strong emotional attachment to the story of the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, being dismissed from the team for reportedly failing a team-issued drug test.
Those emotions are laced with disappointment and despair – moments of wondering about what could have been.
Clad with superstar talent, Mathieu was a true joy to watch during his two-year stint with the Tigers.
He made plays, created chaos and was just a downright interesting guy.
There was never a dull moment. From the forced fumbles (and subsequent recoveries for touchdowns) to the interceptions to the magical punt returns, the guy was a true barrel of laughs on the field in Baton Rouge.
If able to play this season, I believe that LSU would have entered the 2012 season as the most talented team in all of college football – a virtual lock for a very strong season glittered with high-stakes games.
With another strong season, Mathieu would have had a legitimate chance to win the Heisman Trophy. His Honey Badger gimmick has picked up enough steam nationally to make his candidacy legitimate, even if he is a defensive player.
Without him, the Tigers should still be loaded – but they now lack star power and playmaking ability – two things necessary in every championship run.
Time will tell what the 2012 season holds, but I am here to tell the LSU fan base that even though he is no longer a Tiger, we all need to continue to root for Tyrann Mathieu – even if it feels like he betrayed the team with his habitual bad decisions.
This is not a Ryan Perrilloux situation – this is the story of a good kid who is battling a rash of inner demons and an addiction to poor judgment.
The first reason why I say that is because Mathieu is still just a kid.
Born on May 13, 1992, the Honey Badger is more a cub (the scientific term for an infant badger) than he is a fully grown boar (the scientific term for a grown male badger).
Barely 20-years-old, I want any naysayers who question Mathieu’s character to remember everything that they did when at a similar stage of life.
I think if you are honest with yourself, you will find that Mathieu’s misdeeds make him more a common man than we realize.
I assure you he is not the first, nor last LSU student to have an affinity for marijuana. Heck, I will go so far as to say he isn’t the only Tiger football player who would have failed the same test.
That’s not an LSU problem. That’s a young people problem.
Trust me, it hasn’t been many moons since I was in college myself.
I know how this works.
I assure you that the same results would be found at Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Texas or any other major university.
I’m not saying it’s right, nor am I justifying his actions. I’m just saying it’s a problem that infiltrates every college campus in America.
Sure, it’s easy to be a moralist and point to the money Mathieu is in line to make and/or the opportunities he could have had if he stayed clean.
Those are fair points.
But I also remind you that with success comes temptation.
Because of his stature within the university, Mathieu was also placed into far more situations where he was thrust in positions to fail.
Do you guys honestly think Mathieu would ever have to buy a meal for himself in Baton Rouge if he went around looking for handouts? How about a drink at a club?
When everyone wants to be your buddy, a human being is far more vulnerable to making mistakes.
Again, I’m not saying it’s right – I’m just trying to illustrate that this isn’t an LSU-problem – this is a young adult problem.
But ethics and societal issues aside, the biggest reason why we should stick behind Mathieu is because of the memories he gave to the LSU nation.
No one feels worse about this situation than the kid does and he’s handled his departure with class.
If he goes to a smaller-tiered school, so be it.
If he returns to LSU, that’s great, as well.
It is selfish to point the finger to a kid not yet legally able to have an adult beverage because he made a childish mistake.
Sure, we all love LSU football, but we need to get our priorities in line.
The kid lost far more than any of us did in this situation.
Mark me down as one who hopes he’s able to pick up the pieces and get his life back in order.