If you ever needed proof that LSU is really just a football team that happens to have an English department, look no further than the response to news that head coach Les Miles booted Tigers’ defensive back Tyrann Mathieu from the team for violating “team policy.”
By the despair (or, perhaps, just overheated discussion) of Tiger fans, you’d have thought LSU had actually lost 10 percent of its faculty in the budget cuts over the past three years; or those budget cuts had forced the school to cancel several foreign language degree programs; or that the most recent budget cuts had forced severe cuts to routine campus maintenance; or that class sizes had grown inordinately high; or that courses had been eliminated; or that the situation this year was so dire and pitiful that the Athletic Department had to contribute $5.5 million to forestall the complete elimination of whole colleges.
You’d hear profound outrage if any of that actually happened, right?
Well, actually, all of the above has happened. You just may not have heard about it because, of course, it doesn’t rise to the same level importance as the plight of a cocky defensive back who will soon be making millions in the NFL.
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva called the situation “absolutely heartbreaking.”
No, he wasn’t talking about the misplaced fan reaction, and certainly not the negative impact of the cuts imposed on LSU by Gov. Bobby Jindal and the legislature.
He was, of course, talking about the Mathieu situation. And, while he clearly overstates its significance, we should cut Alleva a bit of slack. After all, were it not for the $5.5 million check he cut for LSU’s main campus, there might not be an LSU English Department in the new school year.
In his column in the Baton Rouge Advocate, sportswriter Scott Rabalais agrees with Alleva that the Mathieu situation is “heartbreaking.”
“There is no better word for it,” Rabalais writes.
Really? “No better word’?
So, with all due respect to Rabalais — and with gratitude to Alleva’s for his $5.5 million — gentlemen, this is not a “heartbreaking” situation. It’s a disappointment, lamentable, regrettable, distressing.
It is unfortunate, for LSU football and for Matthieu. Perhaps, it is best described as an outcome not terribly surprising, given what we already knew about Matthieu and his maturity level. (Trust me on this; I follow him on Twitter.)
Matthieu will probably soon be playing football for some other lesser university program and, again, well on his way to the NFL. So, please, spare me all the tears for LSU football under the guise of deep care for Matthieu’s well-being. If we truly cared about young men like Matthieu, we wouldn’t build multi-million-dollar sports empires and thrust them into the middle of them at the tender age of 18.
By contrast, “heartbreaking” are the dramatic cuts in state support for LSU and the drastic rise in LSU’s tuition that still doesn’t make up for what’s been cut.
Heartbreaking is the tuition tax increase that Jindal and Co. have forced upon LSU that will make a college degree just a little more difficult, and sometimes impossible, for thousands of sons and daughters of hardworking Louisiana parents. (And don’t make the mistake of believing that all LSU students receive a full ride because of TOPS; many don’t.)
Heartbreaking is the lost income and opportunity for a young person who cannot afford a college education.
Heartbreaking are the misplaced priorities that result in greater outrage about the foibles of a football player and not the slow, steady destruction of a once-fine institution of higher learning.
- LSU dismisses star Mathieu from team (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- LSU’s Mathieu kicked off team for violating rules (wistv.com)
- Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu kicked off LSU football team (lsureveille.com)