USC Trojans’ quarterback Matt Barkley has been rubbing people the wrong way since the beginning… literally.
Following his first collegiate game in 2009 against San Jose State, Barkley stated: “this is fun. This is easy. This is what I was made to do.” He followed that up by responding to a question about whether or not he found anything difficult about the game with this gem: “The run up the tunnel at halftime. That was brutal.”
Barkley probably got a talking to from Pete Carroll after that, and remained relatively quiet throughout the rest of his freshman and sophomore year, but he’s been back at this season.
In September, Barkley called Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict a “dirty player.” It may have been an accurate statement, but it’s an inappropriate comment for a college player to make about an opponent – especially a quarterback commenting on a defensive player.
In October, Barkley stated he believed Notre Dame gave up in the closing minutes of USC’s win over the Fighting Irish. Again, it was fair question to be raised if coming from a member of the media, but not from an opposing player.
And finally this past week, prior to USC’s showdown against Oregon, Barkley said he believes this year’s Ducks team doesn’t compare to the 2010 version. And once again, it’s a reasonable assessment, but there’s no reason to make comments such as this before a game – especially against a superior opponent.
Barkley’s arrogance is reminiscent of Jimmy Clausen’s attitude during his days at Notre Dame – which ultimately cost him millions of dollars on draft day.
So why isn’t Barkley receiving the same negative press as Clausen?
There are probably a few reasons for this. For one, USC has been out of the spotlight this year. They’re a fringe top-25 team and haven’t been receiving the same national attention as in years past. Additionally, the Trojans don’t have the same national audience as Notre Dame. Win or lose, Notre Dame – and especially their quarterback – is a top of conversation.
Barkley’s comments have flown under the radar in terms of national attention, but you can be sure NFL scouts have taken notice. A quarterback’s leadership ability is crucial to his draft stock. Jimmy Clausen had a hard time fitting into the locker room in Carolina, which likely contributed to the Panthers decision to draft Cam Newton.
If NFL teams believe that Barkley’s attitude will rub some of his veteran teammates the wrong way, it is entirely possibly that he could slide in draft day.