McNeese State coach Matt Viator confirmed Saturday morning that he met with Tyrann Mathieu on Friday night after receiving permission from LSU. The Heisman Trophy finalist was kicked off LSU's team Friday morning for an undisclosed violation of team policy. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 3:06 PM
As McNeese State began its scrimmage Saturday, off in the distance bolts of lightning and claps of thunder filled the sky.
Most of the fans stayed close for cover, awaiting the impending storm.
Anticipation grew as the lighting got brighter and the thunder louder.
However, the storm never really hit. Only a quick shower 90 minutes later brought any relief to the sweltering heat.
Yet for a moment, there were big expectations and great anticipation.
Days later there is a different kind of anticipation on campus. It was there Saturday, too, talked about by the fans, whose rumblings about the subject made it hard to hear the thunder at times.
The subject is the same on the lips of all Cowboy fans; it’s named Tyrann Mathieu, but on the football field it goes by Honey Badger.
Most of the folks figured it was a done deal Saturday night, that the All-America cornerback and Heisman Trophy finalist was headed to Lake Charles.
Dismissed a day earlier from LSU for violating a team policy, Mathieu went so far as to meet with McNeese head coach Matt Viator Friday night.
It still seems like a perfect fit. McNeese could use the skills of Mathieu and his fame wouldn’t hurt ticket sales, either.
As for the Honey Badger, he would use the Cowboys as a soft landing. Lake Charles could become the perfect place to rehab his suddenly tarnished image.
But with each passing moment it seems this storm will pass without making much of an impact on McNeese.
Now we hear reports Mathieu would rather go back to LSU, sit out the season and try to rejoin the Tigers in a year with a clean slate.
Sounds like a good idea. During the next 12 months he could become a changed person, grown up and ready for the next challenge and show that to the Tigers and NFL scouts.
Of course, he could do the same thing at McNeese in about half the time.
Either way, clearly the ball is in Mathieu’s hands.
Strangely enough, many of those fans who watched the Cowboys practice find themselves stuck in the middle as well. Most are not only McNeese backers but also members of Tiger Nation.
They find they are in limbo. Either way they win, either way they lose.
Not so with McNeese.
For the Cowboys, they need an answer and they need one quickly.
It was reported late Monday night that the decision will be made on Wednesday.
We heard from everybody on Monday except Mathieu.
I’m all for giving Mathieu a place to call home, but not at all costs. There is a season to be played one way or the other.
Just like LSU showed the program is bigger than one man, McNeese's coaches have to do the same thing to the same guy.
This is an important year for the Cowboys, one in which they hope to use the struggles of last season's 6-5 campaign to turn it around.
Yet here we are, another day closer to the start of the season and many are waiting on Mathieu.
To their credit, the Cowboys have said the right things, that they will be ready with or without Mathieu. A late distraction, in the name of cornerback Janzen Jackson, came just before the start of last season .
This year, another one.
It is easy to say you are focused, but staying focused is much harder when a storm is gathering in the distance.
The Cowboys are a team that needs calm weather and maybe even a cool breeze if it wants to compete for a conference championship and make it back to the postseason.
That must remain the focus, no matter how much lighting and thunder surrounds them.
Jim Gazzolo is American Press managing sports editor. Email him at email@example.com