This won’t be a long post. It doesn’t need to be. Over the past four years, Matty Trojan taught us about loyalty. In a sports culture that’s about top dollars, holding out for demands, engineering super teams and endorsements, Matt Barkley reminded us about the joy of spending time with family.
In past few days, people have wondered if he crushed Kiffin too much or where he’ll go in the draft. None of that matters. Not even a bit. Matt Barkley should have his number retired in the Coliseum not because he won a Heisman (which he should have 2 years ago), but because no one wanted to be in the Coliseum more than he did.
After having a lot of dreams put on hold, he stuck around to enjoy an experience that all the millions in the NFL couldn’t buy: another senior year. Matt graduated and despite the season not being picture perfect, despite him never playing in a Rose Bowl and his shoulder injury, he will go down as the symbol of why this school can’t be sanctioned, why our love is so much deeper than others give it credit for.
Even when sanctioned and our attendance dropped, we were still filling the Coliseum up 60%, enough that Autzen would look full. And now that I live in Oregon and can speak without bias about the Ducks, they’d still show up to games with a bowl ban, but your entertainment options in Eugene are far less than in Los Angeles where there are more trendy nightspots than, well, houses in Duck Town.
Tonight, he may end up a top ten pick (I’m thinking Bills) or he may not. But if you think of USC, if you think of the deep love of our university and it’s proud football tradition, no one stands out more than Matt. When the empire Uncle Pete created felt like it was in retreat, Matt was Hector fighting to save Troy. He fought until he couldn’t anymore. We should never forget that.
On a personal note, Matt is one of the nicest, best guys I’ve ever met through the football program. I can’t imagine how many people feel this way about him or feel like they are friends, but count me one of them. If I had a medical problem, he’d show support, if I saw him in the tunnel when I was hosting the Pep Rally, he’d run up with Kyle Negrete and beat me up a little bit. He came to see me talk on campus.
Matt’s a real guy and no matter what the final stat sheet says in the NFL, whatever team gets him can genuinely root for him. Today, let’s remember his greatness, which was not limited to the field.
Here’s my favorite memory of Matt, before I met him, before you were even really reading this blog, back when just winning a big game was enough. Matt shouldn’t be defined by the way this last season ended (watch Marino in the last 30 for 30). He should be defined by his character and how many times he treated us to this:
FTFO, Matty. Buy a North Face, it’s cold in Buffalo.
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