From the minute he stepped foot on campus at USC, Matt Barkley had star written all over his face and looked like a quarterback who could potentially lead his team to a National Championship. The lights weren’t shining too bright, he embraced the big stage, and he had the “it” factor of guys that came before him at Southern California. Unfortunately for Barkley, it doesn’t appear that he will ever get that opportunity, but not because he’s not good enough but because of the penalties handed down on the program following the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo scandals.
Even though he is just a junior this season, he may have the opportunity to head to the NFL early and with USC not being allowed to play in a bowl game this year, the Emerald Bowl Title he won as a freshman may be the only postseason win he puts on his college resume.
Matt Barkley joined ESPN Radio Los Angeles with Max Kellerman to talk about how disappointing it is to not be allowed to play for a championship or in a bowl game this season, what he thinks of the sanctions handed down on the program, what he would change about the rules of college football, how the sanctions have hurt recruiting, and what the goal is for a team that can’t participate in the postseason.
How disappointing it is to not be allowed to play in a championship game or a bowl game today:
“It’s disappointing, it definitely is. At the same time we kinda knew it was coming and we expected it to be this way. At this point there’s nothing we can do but move on and enjoy a season with 12 games and try to win as many of those games as we can.”
What he thinks of the sanctions that were handed down when many other programs have the same issues:
“I think when USC was rolling they just wanted to find a reason to bring down a team as good as we were. With the players we had, growing up I love watching Carson (Palmer) Matt (Leinart) and Reggie. I still think Reggie Bush is one of the greatest players to ever play college football. I just want to see fairness across the board. It’s really unfair for the players who are at USC now, especially the seniors and the older guy who won’t get to play in a bowl game. I think justice will be the same across the country and not just tear down one program. That’s what I would like to see.”
What rules he would change in the NCAA:
“I think there’s a lot that can be changed whether you want to change it or not. The whole issue with amateurism, you can go 100 directions of where you want to take that. Whether or not they should get paid or not or representation. When it comes down to it though we are student athletes and we came to go to school and play football. At this point college football is such a big business and players are really getting money for the school. There are a lot of issues you could tackle with education too and graduation rates. I don’t know if there’s one single answer for what’s going on.”
How much the sanctions have hurt USC in terms of recruiting:
“We still got the number one recruit in the country, the number one wide receiver in California in George Farmer. I don’t think they’re getting all the talent at all. They definitely do have a lot of talent and they have a system that works up in Oregon, but at the same time I have a lot of weapons in my arsenal this year and we’re going to use those to full capacity. Oregon is gaining a lot of momentum recently and they’re a great team with a great system up there, but I think what’s great about USC is it prepares us to play at the next level. The guys who come here know that we’re winning, we do our best to get to National Championships, and we have won in the past, but ultimately you go to college to get a job after that. USC is one of the best ways to do that.”
If you could do it all over again would you go to USC?
“Yeah, yeah. I absolutely would make the decision again. Growing up in Southern California I’ve always wanted to come here so I guess I had a biased opinion when I was getting recruited. (Host: What was it about SC?) I love the tradition of the cardinal and gold, playing in the Coliseum, hearing the fight song, and just everything about the school spirit. I just love it. Wouldn’t trade anything for it right now and I love where I’m at. Like I said before I really do believe it’s one of the best ways to prepare you for the NFL with the style of offense we run and being in such a media market like LA. (Going to the NFL next year?) I can’t answer that right now.”
What the goal is this season:
“12-0. Go undefeated. Just like any other season. Win as many games as we can. In our eyes we’re looking at every game as a bowl game right? Just go out and win as many as we can.”
Listen to Matt Barkley on ESPN Radio Los Angeles here (Audio begins 19:30 into the podcast)