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Former NBA player and coach John Lucas, who has battled his own drug and alcohol addictions for years, is counseling former LSU star Tyrann at a drug rehabilitation program in Houston. (Associated Press)

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas, who has battled his own drug and alcohol addictions for years, is counseling former LSU star Tyrann at a drug rehabilitation program in Houston. (Associated Press)

Hobbs: Honey Badger has taken right first step

Last Modified: Saturday, August 18, 2012 5:41 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

In the madcap, desperate rush to salvage and patch up Tyrann Mathieu’s future football career, all the media-fueled, message board-abated speculation apparently forgot one thing: there was also a kid’s life at stake, regardless of how dynamic a football player he is.

It was not a insignificant detail.

Fortunately he had some close friends and family who ignored almost a week of wild, hour-to-hour media updates that were basically throwing mud at the wall to see if anything stuck, to say nothing of message boards begging the Honey Badger to come play with them and everything would be fine.

Everybody wanted to be his halfway house to the NFL.

Cooler heads prevailed. Mathieu the person is now in a noted drug rehab center in Houston to get his life straight. They will worry about Honey Badger the football player at a later date, determined by how well the stay in Houston goes.

His family evidently wasn’t quite as dumbfounded as the fans were by how he could risk the millions of dollars of a pro football career by throwing it all away. Somebody, most likely his uncle and legal guardian, Tyrone Mathieu, took a step back, decided his overall health was more important than any future bank account.

Good for them.

It was far better advice than he was getting from the media and message boards all week.

The truly amazing thing was that he had been in Houston since Monday and his whereabouts didn’t surface until Thursday night, a day after a media-speculated deadline for his choice of schools had passed.

Oh, there were rumors that there had been a Mathieu sighting on the way to Houston — and all it did was bring Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin into the mix of schools that might win the Honey Badger sweepstakes (and, of course, march straight to the FCS championship game).

Instead, the real winner in this thing still has a chance to be young Mathieu himself.

It may have been fun to imagine what McNeese could have been by adding a Heisman finalist into the mix to give the Cowboys surely the best athlete in the Southland Conference.

But history also reminds us that it’s not quite that simple, that the Cowboys haven’t had a lot of luck over the years when adding high-profile transfers. Most notably, there was Cecil “The Diesel” Collins, maybe the best running back I ever saw at LSU in that brief time before he got booted from the Tigers.

He was going to ransack the Southland Conference, too, after transferring to McNeese with a circus-like welcome for his second chance.

Yet he didn’t really do much of anything for McNeese on the field before he failed a drug test there, too, and was banished from Cowboy Stadium. These days he’s still in prison in Miami after the Dolphins drafted him anyway.

So that one didn’t really work out for anybody.

This Mathieu scenario at least has a chance to work out for the person that matters most.

Not that there aren’t still some curiosities here.

Before the news of Mathieu’s current residence broke, the assumption was that his drug use was merely a youthful recreation, that he was too immature or too full of his celebrity emboldened to give up.

Not to minimize it, but it’s not unknown on any college campus.

But if Mathieu’s drug problem really is bad enough to be upgraded to a full-blown addiction, it does make you wonder one thing.

Once he failed the second drug test that got him the one-game suspension last season for LSU’s game with Auburn, he would have been tested far more regularly than other, less suspicious Tigers.

So, if he’s truly addicted, how did he last as long as he did without testing positive again?

You can also work on the assumption that, if he’s in indefinite drug rehab, there was maybe was something a little stronger in play than just the synthetic marijuana that he reportedly tested positive for last season.

Whatever, but by showing the good faith to face his demons and go get himself straightened out and truly off whatever he’s on, maybe he does end up playing at LSU again.

That is obviously what he wants, complicated by the fact that LSU’s drug policy spells it out pretty clearly that he is permanently ineligible.

This unexpected turn does give LSU some time, however, to work on making it maybe a little less permanent.

Assuming his stay in Houston is a success and he comes home clean and stays that way while re-enrolling on his own dime in the spring, LSU at least has an excuse to take him back.

He would be a far more sympathetic figure in that scenario. LSU might almost look the heavy if it stood firm and didn’t give the kid just one more chance.

The school’s lawyers can figure out how to word it. They’ve got time now.

Regardless, the Honey Badger has taken the right first step.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

Posted By: Elrod, A.B. On: 8/19/2012

Title: Jabber

Good article. Reminded us all that there is always hope and that he is just a kid that needs some help with problems created by the need to be the best football player....That need was fueled by friends, fans, coaches, and opponants and he was under a great deal of pressure to perform. Now that the pressure to perform is off maybe he will be able to concentrate on his own goals rather than that of others. Good luck to him. I wish him much success in life.

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