Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off LSU's football team Friday for breaking an athletic department rule, a blow to the Tigers' national championship hopes three weeks before their season opener.
The junior defensive back — nicknamed Honey Badger for his tenacious style, small stature (5-foor-9, 175 pounds) and blonde streak of hair — rose from obscurity to become one of college football's biggest stars last season.
He was a sleeper Heisman candidate as the Tigers won the Southeastern Conference championship and reached the BCS title game. They are among the favorites to win the title this year, and remain so even without Mathieu.
At a news conference Friday, coach Les Miles would not specify the reason Mathieu was dismissed.
"We'll miss the guy," Miles said.
Athletic Director Joe Alleva said Mathieu, who was suspended for a game in 2011 after failing a drug test, violated an athletic department rule and had his scholarship revoked.
The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, citing an unidentified person close to the player, reported that Mathieu failed another drug test.
ALABAMA: Cornerback Travell Dixon, a junior college transfer who enrolled in January and was expected to contend for a spot in the secondary rotation, left the team for personal reasons.
LOUISVILLE: Wide receiver Michaelee Harris, the Cardinals' second-leading receiver last season with 37 catches for 455 yards and two touchdowns, will miss the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.