Can Matt Barkley, USC Bounce Back from Last Week's Stanford Loss?

If you read Bill Plaschke’s article from Tuesday’s LA Times you would be led to believe that Matt Barkley is Peyton Manningesque. There doesn’t appear to be a negative thought in Barkley’s mind as he speaks only of positives that came from USC’s stunning loss to Stanford. His comments portray a mental toughness and resolve to persevere that only the greatest of the greats in the world of sport have.

Coming into last Saturday, Barkley’s USC Trojans were ranked #2 in the nation and hell bent on a path to play Alabama for the BCS National Championship. Furthermore, the public’s perception was that all the Madison Ave. bound quarterback had to do was simply show up on Saturday’s and the Heisman Trophy was his. Completing the college football triple crown, by all accounts, Barkley was / is slated to be the #1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Contrary to Plaschke’s depiction of Barkley’s positive state of mind, a source close to the situation tells me that the reality is that the world turned upside down and landed squarely on the shoulders of the Trojan leader last Saturday when USC was held scoreless for the final 41:19 of the game. Barkley ended the contest 20 of 41 for 254-yards with two INTs, the Trojans lost, and now all the pieces of  Matt Barkley’s world have been stolen and replaced with exact replicas that don’t work right.

For Barkley, the sun is now rising in the West and setting in the East, his food tastes awful and the air stinks. Going to sleep each night used to be the best part of his day because each day that passed brought him closer to fulfilling his dreams. Lying in bed trying to fall asleep has now become an arduous task, as his mind races with thoughts of “what if.”  With the constant media coverage of his 60-minute fall from grace, getting out of bed to face the day has now become a miserable experience, as he knows that’s now all anyone wants to talk about.

Coming out of a two-year bowl ban, Barkley, his teammates and all of Trojan Nation had national title hopes for the season. It’s why he came back and didn’t jump for the riches of the NFL. After the 21-14 loss his coach, Lane Kiffin, threw him under the bus, categorizing his consecutive interceptions against Stanford as, “Probably two of his worst decisions in our three years together … really poor decisions by him … ones he’d like to have back.” USC dropped to 13th in the national rankings this week and Barkley went from being the frontrunner in the Heisman polls to fifth. In summary, last Saturday was not a good week to be Matt Barkley. There wasn’t an athlete in America, amateur or pro, who lost more on that day.

Our program source tells us that Matt Barkley is distraught and his brain is littered with regrets of coming back to USC. Who could blame the guy really? Barkley is now the Al Gore of college football and will forever be known as “the guy who was supposed to win a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy.” At this point really all he has to hold on to really is the fact that he still has a chance to be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. That wouldn’t have happened last year with Andrew Luck in the mix and Robert Griffin III may have very well gone ahead of him as too.

One can certainly understand Matt Barkley being distraught at the moment. Only time will tell how he will be able to digest this going forward and perform on the field. He certainly still has some high profile games the rest of the way to strut his stuff on a national stage. With no more slips the rest of the way and knockout performances against Arizona (22) on Oct. 27, Oregon (3) on Nov. 3, crosstown rival UCLA (19) on Nov. 17 and Notre Dame (11) on Nov. 24, Barkley and his teammates may be able to repair some of the damage done, but the Trojans are going to need an absurd amount of help if they are still thinking about a national title. As for Barkley’s Heisman Trophy; the headline here could have very read, “Barkley Second USC Trojan Ordered to Return Heisman Trophy.” The kid has got to be feeling a bit like Reggie Bush right now; the trophy was his, it was already inscribed with his name on it and they were just going to give it to him with no questions asked. Not anymore…

Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans take on Cal at home this week, whether or not he bounces back in a big way will have a lot to do with his ultimate fate.

Random Musings

Please do not send in editorial corrections claiming the headline should read “Barkley Third USC Trojan Ordered to Return Heisman Trophy.” O.J. Simpson was not ordered to return his Heisman; he just sold it… and then tried to steal it back… DOH!

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