Late Thursday evening, early Friday morning, reports surfaced of Tyrann Mathieu’s presence in a rehabilitation center outside of Houston. While I am happy that Mathieu is finally getting the help he deserves, I wonder what took so long.
It had been no secret around of Mathieu’s troubled upbringing and rumors had long circulated he had been running with the wrong crowd. The warning sirens should have been sounding at 11 when you combine those factors with multiple failed drug tests, including one that cost him a game against the Auburn Tigers.
When details of Mathieu’s dismissal leaked out, then eventually confirmed by LSU head coach Les Miles, I couldn’t help but wonder: did LSU put winning football games about the well being of a student athlete?
The answer shouldn’t surprise you. College football is a billion dollar industry and the Southeastern Conference is the breadwinner. Not to mention a championship run worth tens of millions of dollars is not the time to take a stand for a coach making nearly $5 million a year. The pressure to win is only intensified by fan bases that carry realistic or unrealistic expectations of perfect seasons and championship trophies.
With the exception of Brigham Young University, few schools would ever take a stand during the middle of a season where post season expectations are elevated. However, that doesn’t mean its right. For a moment, forget the media hype, take the name off the jersey and remember that Tyrann Mathieu is a human being who won’t be playing football forever. An individual’s life should always be given priority over winning football games.
No matter which way you spin it, the LSU Tigers failed Mathieu by not getting him the help he needed, when he needed it. Perhaps if they would have taken a stand last fall or encouraged Mathieu to seek help this spring, the Honey Badger would still be on the field in 2012.