Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, became the latest college football player to find himself in hot water due to causes of his own doing. The LSU star was dismissed from the football program last week amidst several failed drug tests. Now he has to make amends to his teammates, coaches and fans and return to the program next season, if they will let him.
According to SI.com, nearly 20 schools at the FCS level have inquired about getting Mathieu to transfer, yet he still remains undecided. He can still attend classes at LSU and possibly return to the Tigers for their 2013 campaign.
A Heisman Trophy finalist a season ago, primarily as a defensive player, Mathieu was likely projected as a top first-round pick for next year’s NFL draft. This incident has definitely knocked him down to much later in the first round and possibly out of it entirely, costing him millions in potential contract dollars.
By transferring to an FCS, the second tier of Division I football, Mathieu could continue his playing career immediately and try to improve his declining draft stock. Basically, he could leave LSU in his rear-view mirror and move on, as if it never happened.
However, for Mathieu to truly learn from his mistakes and to make it up to the people he let down, the best option would be to sit out the season and try to come back to the LSU football program next season. Not playing this year will give him a chance to reflect on what he has done and get his priorities straight. Transferring and continuing his playing career elsewhere is a quick fix and selfish. It makes it as if the mistakes he has made will just disappear.
No doubt Mathieu is a first-rate talent with an exciting professional career in front of him, in spite of his baggage. For him to redeem himself as a man and as a football player, he should remain at LSU. He can prove to himself and to the people counting on him that he has learned from his mistakes and that he is a better person for it.
Maybe most importantly, he can prove to the NFL franchise that ultimately takes a chance on him that he is mature enough and deserving to play on Sundays.