College Football: Our Man Matt

Matt Barkley drops back in a recent USC scrimmage (Photo / Orange County Register)
The August 20 issue of Sports Illustrated featured an article on USC Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley. For some players covered by SI, there seems to be little worth admiring about their lives away from the playing field. Not so with Mr. Barkley. When the Trojans were hit with NCAA sanctions in June 2010 that included a two-year bowl ban and a 30-scholarship penalty, Barkley stepped up and began calling recruits, confirming his commitment to  the program so that they would keep theirs.

Barkley proved true to his word last winter when, rather than leaving for an NFL deal that SI estimates might have earned him $15 Mn, he announced his intention to stay at USC and complete his final year of eligibility.

During his tenure at Southern Cal, Barkley has struck a friendship with Trojan legend Louie Zamperini, whose faith and resiliency – in addition to world class athletic talents – were the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s stellar Unbroken. It’s his understanding of Zamperini’s true hardships, relative to those encountered as a quarterback of a top-ranked college football team, that helps Barkley keep things in perspective.

“Whatever I do,” Barkley told SI, “I can’t ever measure up to Louie.”