With the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu from the LSU football team, the Tigers' defensive backfield is now down one consensus All-American, Bednarik Award winner and Heisman Trophy winner as it heads into a 2012 season with national-title ambitions. LSU coach Les Miles went no further than "fundamental violation" of team rules in explaining the reason for the dismissal, though Mathieu had already been suspended one game in 2011 for what newspapers reported as a failed drug test.
So the question that's on everybody's lips is: Does this mean that Miles has lost control of his team? Particularly considering that two other players were suspended along with Mathieu last season? And that two other players, including quarterback Jordan Jefferson, were suspended earlier in the same season for participating in a bar fight?
Ha ha! Trick question, reader! That question has been on nobody's lips.
Wonder how come, especially since Mark Richt can count on having "he's lost control" columns written about him in papers across the country if one of his players so much as forgets to wash his hands after using the restroom? If you'll forgive this writer for getting downright cynical, it's as simple as Winning Solving Everything. Over the past three years, Les Miles' LSU squad is 33-7, with three January bowls, an SEC title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game. Richt's Bulldogs, meanwhile, are 24-16 with no SEC titles and one losing season, and only pulled out of their recent skid with last season's SEC East title. (Which, it should be said, earned them nothing more than the right to get body-slammed by LSU in the conference title game.)
When your team is winning, in other words, you can write off stuff like Mathieu's dismissal as isolated bumps in the road. When they're not, even a backup player getting kicked off the team is a sign of impending collapse. It ain't fair, but unfortunately for Mark Richt, that's how it works.