While Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal could have a major impact on the SEC and national title races, it's unlikely to matter much when it comes to the quest for the 2012 Heisman.
Granted, Mathieu was a Heisman finalist in 2011, finishing fifth in the final balloting, but his 327 points put him well behind Robert Griffin III's 1,687. Only 34 voters out of 925 put him first on their ballots.
|Mathieu booted from LSU|
That was after a remarkable season where he made amazing play after amazing play, with most of them coming at crucial times, while helping lead LSU to an undefeated regular season. Adorned with the 'Honey Badger' nickname, he rode a wave of publicity and praise all the way to New York City.
Mathieu wasn't going to have that same type of season again. It's very hard to get the stars to align your way twice. Even if he had, the odds of him actually winning the trophy would've been low. This is why he does not show up on CBSSports.com's preseason Heisman Watch. It's not a knock on his ability, but a recognition that the Heisman selection process routinely discriminates against defensive players.
Voters have nothing against defensive players per se. It's just that it's not always easy for them to quantify the effect that a defensive player has on a game, or on a team's success. It's much easier to understand how a quarterback or a running back influences things. The pure defensive players who ended up finalists have almost always stood out due to an interesting stat or two --like Ndamukong Suh with his 10 pass deflections or Mathieu with his six forced fumbles (and timely punt returns). Most defensive players are unable to differentiate themselves enough to matter when it comes to the Heisman.
The real downside to Mathieu's dismissal is that, in his absence, the 2012 Heisman race will lose some of its zest. Mathieu was a colorful player and fascinating to watch. He personified the crazy 2011 season better than anyone this side of RG3.
It would've been fun to see if he could defy logic and do it all again, but the Heisman race will roll on without a hitch.