Why The Heisman Trophy Is Matt Barkley’s To Lose
So let’s pretend the Heisman race is actually a series of job interviews.
Week in and week out, candidates across the nation tweak, detract from, and add to their extensive resumes. Wins in the national spotlight and SportsCenter-worthy highlights are heavily valued while losses, turnovers, and lapses in style points send resumes straight to the trash can.
Some years a dark horse takes the field by storm and emerges as the victor (think last year’s Robert Griffin III). Other years the race is close from start to finish. And then there are years when all the stars seem to align above one candidate with nothing but a solid season standing in the way of hoisting the bronze statue in December. For Matt Barkley, this appears to be one of those years.
There haven’t been many other Heisman hopefuls with as balanced, proven, and impressive a resume as Barkley’s.
There are the essential statistics:
1. 80 career touchdowns and over 9,000 career yards (He is third on SC’s total passing and total offense charts. Not to mention behind two Heisman winners).
2. 39 touchdowns and over 3,500 yards in 2011 alone (including a six touchdown game versus Colorado and a fifty point shut-out against cross town rival UCLA).
3. As the only freshman quarterback to ever start at USC, Barkley has missed only two of the 38 games the Trojan’s have played in and of those 36 he has won 27.
There is the team’s story:
1. USC resides in the heart of a media capital. Barkley has everything he needs to battle the so-called “east coast bias” that so many west coast fans worry about come voting time. Also, the Trojan’s would be tied with Ohio State and Notre Dame as the schools with the most Heisman winners (7) were it not for the Reggie Bush disaster.
2. This USC team is stacked, with probably the most talented receiving squad we’ve seen. The quarterback is not alone with returning star wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods contributing to the highly impressive offense. But the depth of Barkley’s options is even more incredible, featuring new additions Nelson Agholor, George Farmer, Victor Blackwell, and De’Von Flournoy. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer round out the talented core. For now.
There are even the fairytale story lines:
1. Barkley has wanted to be the quarterback for the University of Southern California since his eighth birthday.
2. USC is the only team not in the SEC to win the national championship in the past eight years (well sort of…the Bush thing really messed up the ability to provide reliable stats). The Trojan’s would love to be the team to break the southern streak.
3. This team knows it’s their year. The full ramifications of the NCAA’s extensive sanctions have yet to be seen, but with the two year post-season bowl ban in the rear view mirror, the Trojan’s appear to be in the eye of the storm. They’ve waited. They’ve worked (hard). And they are ready to fulfill national expectations. They even seem to have successfully tuned out national attention with the motto “Prep Not Hype” boldly painted on their practice field.
And most importantly, we know what this year could mean. The senior QB could shatter the standing school records of both career passing and total offensive yards. The team is poised to steamroll through the PAC-12 South with only Oregon standing in the way of a league championship and a national title. This is Lane Kiffin’s opportunity to make an emphatic mark on his legacy. This is the University of Southern California’s chance to laugh in the face of NCAA sanctions. And if all goes well, this is the year Matt Barkley wins the Heisman trophy.
He is the most talked about player in all of college football. Coupled with his performances on game day, Barkley has put together a fairly incredible off the field resume as well. As Lee Jenkins revealed in his feature on Barkley in Sports Illustrated, he has traveled to multiple countries on missions trips, serves in his community as a Christian leader, plays guitar, enjoys DJ-ing, is dating his beautiful elementary school sweetheart, and even finds time to be a self-identified ‘tech-nerd’. His coach calls him “Matty Trojan”; the perfect representative of one of the most successful football powerhouses in the nation.
If his credentials haven’t impressed you enough, Barkley recently stepped into an entirely new football frontier as a co-creator of a new smart phone app. “Project Tro7an” is designed to allow fans, alumni, and media (and quite possibly those with Heisman votes) easy access to team and player updates, behind the scenes video, and data as the season continues. Creative campaign marketing? Absolutely. Another feature that proves Barkley to be one of a kind? No doubt.
There are four months and thirteen games to be played before the ceremony in New York, and Matt Barkley has done all the work he needs to put him at the front of the pack. With the 2012 college football season officially kicking off last night, it’s time for the quarterback to do just what he said in last winter’s press conference and take care of unfinished business.
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