BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU has dismissed Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu from its football program for violating school and team rules.
The junior defensive back nicknamed Honey Badger was a surprising Heisman candidate last season as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and reached the BCS title game. LSU lost the championship 21-0 to Alabama.
At a news conference Friday, coach Les Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was kicked off the team.
"We'll miss the guy," Miles said. "The football team's got to go on. We'll have to fill the void."
The Tigers enter this season as one of the favorites to reach the national championship game again. They are No. 1 in the coaches' preseason poll and expected to be right near the top of the AP college football poll when it is released Aug. 18.
Mathieu won the Bednarik Award as national defensive player of the year last season and was big-play machine at cornerback and on special teams. The All-American scored four touchdowns — two on punt returns and two on fumble returns — intercepted two passes and caused six fumbles and recovered four.
He was also suspended for a game last year for failing a drug test. The Tigers beat Auburn 45-10 without Mathieu.
Mathieu has two years of eligibility left and could transfer, but he would have to sit out this season if he went to another school in major college football. If he moved down a level, to FCS, he could play right away.
"I can't imagine he would be here and not want to transfer and go play football," Miles said. "We will help him in every way we can."
LSU isn't quite as deep at cornerback as it was last season, when it had All-American Morris Claiborne and often used Mathieu as a nickleback. Tharold Simon is the other starter opposite Mathieu. Second on the depth chart are redshirt freshman Jalen Collins and freshman Jalen Mills.