Did Kiffin Come Down Too Hard on Barkley?
Kiffin said that Matt Barkley’s two interceptions were “really unusual:” fair enough, complementing his quarterback despite the loss. But he also went on to say that the two interceptions were “Probably two of his worst decisions in our three years together.” See, that’s a bit over the top.
And what really kills it for me is that Kiffin also said in his conference that Barkley’s “Pretty beat-up, mentally and physically” after the game. Well I’ll tell you what Coach Kiffin, I’m sure when Matt heard you say that ‘two of his worst decisions’ in his college career were the focus of your press conference he instantly perked up. The expectations were through the roof this year for Barkley and to have so many dreams and aspirations become suddenly so distant (though still not unattainable) is enough to stomach on its own. He doesn’t need his own coach adding insult to injury, especially when this same coach is clearly aware that he’s ‘mentally’ beat-up over the loss.
The fact may very well be that those two interceptions were Barkley’s two biggest mistakes at USC, but it’s Kiffin’s responsibility to get up on the podium and tell the press that he believes Barkley will come back strong because that’s the type of quarterback he is. (Kiffin did eventually get there, saying he’d “Rally, just like he has before.” But it’s hard to take it whole-heartedly after the earlier comments.)
USC was up 14-7 near the end of the first half when Barkley threw a pass into traffic and Stanford Safety Jordan Richards came up with it. Barkley’s defense got him the ball right back, but his next throw was intercepted as well, as he was trying to stretch out a big play. The Trojans then went scoreless in the second half, losing the game 21-14.
Maybe I’m just being picky because I have a lot of sympathy for what Barkley must be going through, but Kiffin’s comments to me really seem unwarranted and unprofessional. It’s as if he wants to make sure that the media knows it wasn’t his personal fault about the game, that the USC loss was all because of two little glitches in the otherwise solid game plan. The comments are definitely getting a lot of press, so it will be interesting to see how the team fairs the rest of the way.