Published September 27, 2011
LOS ANGELES – The Pac-12 reprimanded Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley on Tuesday for referring to Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict as a dirty player.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Barkley violated the conference's policies on sportsmanship and conduct with his "derogatory and inflammatory" comments in an interview published last week in the Los Angeles Times. Barkley received no suspension or additional punishment.
Barkley, who played against Burfict during high school in the Los Angeles area, didn't back down from his words Tuesday before the reprimand was announced. But he added his thoughts came from "a place of respect for Vontaze," expressing dismay his entire comments weren't used in the Times story.
"I played with him for so long," Barkley said after USC's practice on Tuesday. "I know him as a player, know him as a person, and I think he's a wonderful player, which is what I said to that (reporter), but he left it out. He played a great game and he deserves that, and, I mean, that doesn't change what I said about (Burfict). I think it's still true."
Barkley called Burfict a dirty player several days before the Trojans' 43-22 loss to the Sun Devils last week.
The conference waited a week to sanction Barkley, a junior considered one of the nation's top NFL prospects at his position.
USC coach Lane Kiffin agreed Barkley's comment wasn't appropriate, saying he spoke to Barkley about using more caution with his words shortly after the interview.
"Despite this reprimand, Matt Barkley represents everything that is good about college athletics," Kiffin said. "He is one of the finest student-athletes I have ever been around. You will not find a person with higher character or values."
Barkley is in his third season as USC's starting quarterback, already ranking fifth in school history in total offense. He has passed for 1,119 yards in four games this season with 10 touchdowns — including a school record-tying five TDs against Syracuse earlier this month — and three interceptions.
He's also a squeaky-clean citizen with a solid grade-point average and a large leadership role for the Trojans, emerging as the players' public representative during the past two years of NCAA sanctions and setbacks.
While most winning quarterbacks prepared for bowl games last winter, Barkley spent his winter break on a humanitarian church trip to Nigeria.
USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) hosts Arizona on Saturday.