The #9 story in our review of the top 10 stories of 2012 is the trials and tribulations of the LSU football team, starting with a disastrous loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship game, and ending with a New Year’s Eve appearance in a non-BCS bowl. In between those two bowl appearances, one of the best players to wear the Purple and Gold in years was dumped from the team.
The all-SEC national championship in January became the first shutout in BCS title game history, as Alabama kicked five field goals and Trent Richardson broke a 34-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers and Tide earlier met on Nov. 5, 2011, and the Tigers won a touchdown-less, defensive standoff, 9-6 in overtime. That “Game of the Century” promised to be a prelude to the championship matchup between two teams in the same conference division. However, the complete collapse of the LSU offense, gaining less than 100 total yards in the entire game, humiliated the tens of thousands of Tiger fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Although Tyrann Mathieu, “the Honey Badger,” was largely ineffectual in the title game, he had been a fond memory for fans to recall as they tried to get over the stunning loss in the Superdome. Mathieu was a Heisman nominee, a rare nod for a defensive player. However, Tiger fans were unaware of the magnitude of the behind-the-scenes problems that were brewing for Matheiu, one of the most explosive players to wear the Purple and Gold in years.
On August 10, Head Coach Les Miles called a news conference to announce that Mathieu was no longer a member of the team.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences…“It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”
Mathieu was reportedly booted from the team for repeatedly testing positive for use of marijuana and/or synthetic marijuana. Following his dismissal from the squad, he publicly stated that it was his intent to stay on at LSU as a student and hopefully be considered for reinstatement next year on the team. Les Miles remained mum on whether he would consider reinstatement if Mathieu cleaned up his act.
However, all that went out the window in October when Mathieu and three other former LSU players were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana.
In November, Mathieu stated his intention to enter the 2013 NFL draft, rather than transfer to another school to play next season.
The loss of Mathieu undoubtedly impacted the Tigers’ 2012 season. Losses on the road to Florida and Alabama resulted in a final BCS ranking of #8, leading to a trip to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve.