Mettenberger, Mathieu grab spotlight
The two most publicized LSU football players sat in opposite corners of LSU’s Indoor Practice Facility during Media Day interviews Tuesday afternoon.
On one end sat the famed “Honey Badger” — Tyrann Mathieu, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a sophomore defensive back last season but who hasn’t been available for interviews nin months.
On the other end sat junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who has been the most frequently interviewed Tiger in recent months even though he has yet to start a game.
The players most closely tied to LSU’s prospects this season were the most popular targets for reporters, though Mathieu received more consistent attention — because no one knows when he might be available again — than Mettenberger, who has been consistently available and figures to continue to be.
Less than 15 minutes into the interview session, as waves of reporters continued to approach Mathieu, Mettenberger was sitting all by himself in a rare break from media scrutiny for LSU’s new starting quarterback.
When asked if he ever imagined he’d find himself all alone in this setting, Mattenberger cracked, “I hoped,” before turning thoughtful.
“I feel like sometimes I get a little too much attention for a guy who hasn’t even started a game in his career,” Mettenberger said. “I think this team needs more attention than just one man.”
Which leads back to Mathieu, who would have done a whole team’s worth of interviews by now if coach Les Miles hadn’t limited access.
“I think lot of guys on this team deserve the spotlight,” Mathieu said. “I don’t have to have it all the time. I’m fine with that.”
Local and national reporters have been rebuffed in attempts to interview Mathieu during the summer before Miles lifted the ban at least for Media Day, at which all players and coaches are traditionally available for the dozens of statewide reporters who descend on LSU’s campus to preview the upcoming season.
When asked why he hadn’t been available in so long, Mathieu said, “I’m not sure. I just go with what coach wants to do. I agree with him. I think he’s doing a great job. I respect whatever coach decides.”
Mathieu was comfortable, as he usually is with reporters, and smiled a lot, but he mostly offered brief, innocuous comments that bore little resemblance to the barrage of spirited tweets he often offers to the world.
He said being on Twitter is “pretty fun,” but “I have to watch what I say and not be so direct with it.”
Mettenberger has no such concern because he doesn’t have a Twitter account.
He said seeing multiple athletes banned from the London Olympics because of things they tweeted reinforced his belief that Twitter would be more trouble than it would be worth to him.
Mettenberger was one of three players that Miles chose to represent LSU at the Southeastern Conference Media Days last month; Mathieu wasn’t.
Mettenberger has also been a frequent subject of interviews during the summer, though he said he’s looking forward to things slowing down now that the major traditional preseason group media sessions are done.
He and his teammates are naturally eager to focus on the season opener against North Texas on Sept. 1 in Tiger Stadium and spend less time — preferably none — answering questions about the 21-0 loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game after the No. 1-ranked Tigers had put together a school-record 13-0 regular season last year.
“With the way last season ended the media is going to come after us, not in a bad way,” he said, “but we just want to go out there and do what we do and that’s play football. We’re really excited that it’s less than 30 days to get season started.”
Mettenberger estimated that about 15 different groups of reporters had passed by his station asking mostly the same questions. The most popular topic, he said, was “the expectations of being the No. 1 quarterback this year.”
As the nearly one-hour session wound down, Mettenberger admitted the exercise was “better than being in 110-degree heat for two-a-days.”