While the details are still largely unknown, one thing is for certain: Tyrann Mathieu will not be suiting up for the LSU Tigers next year. The No. 1 ranked Tigers were expected to contend for a national championship this season, an expectation surely damaged by Mathieu's dismissal. Mathieu, nicknamed the "Honey Badger" for his incredible athleticism, faces a long road to the NFL despite his status as a Heisman runner-up. As a player entering his junior season, he still must wait at least a year before entering the NFL, leaving a great deal of uncertainty for his future.
If his dismissal is a result of yet another drug violation, it would be his third violation and would deem him ineligible to play for the NCAA this season. This would leave Mathieu with four options: play at a NAIA school, play at a junior college, wait out the season and enter the draft in 2013, or wait out the year and play for an NCAA team.
These are roads that have been traveled by current and former NFL players, who have similarly been forced to leave their teams. This article examines Mathieu's best, middle and worst-case scenarios.
Best Case Scenario: Cam Newton, First Round, 1st overall, Carolina Panthers
First chance: Newton spent his first two years backing up Tim Tebow before running in to some legal trouble. Newton stole a laptop and, while being arrested, made a poor "read" and threw the laptop out of a window in a hilarious attempt to avoid an arrest.
Second Chance: Newton spent a year at a community college before spending the next year at Auburn. At Auburn he won a Heisman and a national championship while narrowly avoiding an eligibility controversy.
NFL Career thus far: Since being drafted in 2011 by the Carolina Panthers, Newton has accomplished the following: Rookie of the Year, Pro Bowl selection, 4000+ yards passing, and new record for most rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback. Needless to say Newton had a pretty tremendous first year in the NFL, squeezing 6 wins out of an otherwise mediocre team.
To-Be-Determined Scenario: Janoris Jenkins, Second Round, 39th overall, St. Louis Rams
His first chance: From 2008- 2011 Jenkins starred for the Florida Gators, starting at cornerback as a true freshman in the best conference in college football. Jenkins had several incidents while at Florida. In 2009 he was tasered by police following a bar fight and ultimately earning his dismissal from the Gators in 2011 following two marijuana arrests in three months.
Second Chance (or fourth, depending on the count): Jenkins played at the University of Alabama, a Division II school, for his senior season. There were reports that he still smoked marijuana during his senior season.
NFL Career thus far: Having been drafted this year, nobody knows for certain what kind of career Jenkins will have. His legal troubles and character concerns did make Jenkins fall in the draft, despite some regarding him as a top-5 talent. Reports from Rams camp have been positive thus far, but the pre-season is not a telling predictor of future success. For the sake of his four children (by three different women), Jenkins better prove critics wrong.
Worst Case Scenario: Maurice Clarett, Third Round, 101st overall, Denver Broncos
His First Chance: Maurice Clarett set the college football world on fire with his freshman performance. He set the Ohio state rushing record for freshman with 1,237 yards, and lead Ohio State to a national championship. After a slew of transgressions, the most notable being filing a false police report, Clarett was dismissed by Ohio State.
His Second Chance: After being denied entry to the 2004 draft as a sophomore by future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Clarett sat out that season as he had already hired an agent, making him ineligible to play college football. His second chance came in the NFL when Mike Shanahan drafted him in the third round, despite a 4.82 40-yard dash time. For reference, that is only .12 seconds faster than the 6-foot-6, 307 pound Donald Stephenson, the fastest offensive lineman in the most recent draft.
NFL Career thus far: Clarett was cut a month after he was drafted. He has since spent over two years in prison for a robbery conviction. Last seen on the 2011 roster for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL, Clarett's football career appears to be over.
So what is next for Mattieu? Depending on the nature of his dismissal, Mattieu could find himself in another division I program or he could find himself in a NAIA or junior college program. His draft stock will be hurt when by this incident he enters the draft but it remains to be seen how his dismissal will affect his development as a cornerback.
In the meantime, the "Honey Badger" should avoid playing in the weeds.