The headline of the day in college football on Friday was simple and startling: LSU boots Heisman finalist DB.
Ah yes, the silly season of college football has, as usual, jump started before the actual season of games and bands and pageantry.
Yes, LSU, which played in the BCS title game a year ago, and which was one of the favorites to make it back to the BCS title game in Miami in January, had kicked Tyrann Mathieu–the ever popular Honey Badger who had been one of the stories dejour during the Tigers’ run last season– off the team for breaking athletic department rules.
Not just off the team, but his scholarship had also been revoked. “We’ll miss the guy” said LSU coach Les Miles. “The football team’s got to go on. We’ll have to fill the void. ‘
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva expanded on the issue. “Being an athlete is a privilege,” said Alleva. “It’s a privilege and you have to follow the rules to take advantage of that privilege. And unfortunately he doesn’t have that privilege here any more.”
Mathieu had been suspended for a game last season for failing a drug test. Although nothing was said officially, the buzz around the LSU campus on Friday was that another drug test had been failed–not once, not twice, but three times which according to NCAA standards meant you were gone.
Now it can be argued that failing a drug test may be caused by smoking some pot, which is hardly a stop the presses issue with college students. But it could be something else. And the bottom line is that athletes do get privleges such as scholarships and other perks and if they have to play by some rules which don’t make sense, so be it.
So Honey Badger left LSU. He will show up some place, perhaps McNeese State, which is at the FCS level, which means he can play right away.
Life does indeed go on Ooobla-de Ooobla-da
It was the same way at Boston College this spring when BC Coach Frank Spaziani announced that running back Montel Harris, the school’s all time leading rusher, had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.
Harris, who had qualified for another season of eligibility after a knee injury virtually wiped out last season, would have been a key figure in BC’s hope of bouncing back from last season’s 4-8 record.
No one argued character issues. He was and is a great kid, always upbeat. But the buzz around BC was that the Eagles had no choice: three failed drug tests meant you were gone. BC, like LSU, chose to be vague in its wording. There were other issues involved in which Spaziani questioned Harris’ committment to the Eagle program as well.
The NCAA has some good rules, some strange rules. Spaziani is still fuming over the NCAA ruling which prevented former BC wide receiver Ifaneyi Momah from receiving a sixth year of eligibility.
Spaziani said that Momah, who had been plagued by a series of injuries during his BC career, he would have helped Momah play at another school, just to get a chance.
It didn’t matter, the NCAA denied the appeal.
Harris was a different case.
He likely will be finishing his career at Temple this fall.
Life goes on.
In a perfect world of college football, the games are played on crisp fall Saturday afternoons or in the South–pleasant, but not suffocating evenings. Teams win, teams lose, no one suffers any serious injuries, everyone plays by the rules and everyone goes home feeling better for having been part of what is truly an American tradition.
This, of course, is not a perfect world. Shit happens. Bad stuff done by bad guys.
Honey Badger and Montel Harris are not bad guys. They did some things. If given a second chance they probably would make different choices.
They will get that chance–but not where they started.
Life goes on.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.