USC quarterback Matt Barkley scrambles for yardage against Syracuse in… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
But he wouldn't be, apparently, if Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian were running an NFL team.
"If I'm an NFL head coach, right now, I'd pick Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck," Sarkisian said Monday. "I think he's playing at that high of a level."
USC Coach Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian emerged from their years as Trojans assistants with a shared love for hyperbole and gamesmanship.
It was only two weeks ago, on the eve of USC's game against Stanford, that Kiffin called Luck "maybe the best quarterback ever to play college football."
What would that make Barkley?
The junior was selected as the Pac-12 Conference's offensive player of the week after passing for a USC-record six touchdowns Friday in a 42-17 victory over Colorado. Barkley has passed for 28 touchdowns with six interceptions.
Luck has passed for 26 touchdowns with five interceptions. He completed 16 of 21 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford's 65-21 victory over Washington on Oct. 22. The next week, he led the Cardinal to a triple-overtime victory over USC.
So perhaps Sarkisian made his proclamation knowing that Luck probably won't come back to haunt him next season. And that such praise might help nudge Barkley to the NFL rather than returning to play against the Huskies again in 2012.
Or maybe Sarkisian really believes what he said.
On Monday, Sarkisian praised Barkley's poise, accuracy, knowledge of the game and ability to turn bad plays into good ones.
"I think where he fits into the National Football League is in his pocket presence and what Lane's doing with him," Sarkisian said, adding, "I think he's fantastic."
Words of wisdom
Several glass doors at Heritage Hall on Monday had a note taped to them with a portion of a quote from Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt. After Washington's 34-17 loss to Oregon, the former Trojans assistant said, "I'd rather play USC than Oregon, quite honestly."
Asked if he thought that would serve as motivation for the Trojans, Sarkisian said: "I think you could ask every defensive coordinator in our conference the same question and they'd tell you the same thing: That Oregon is hard to prepare for because of how unique they are."
Sarkisian added, "If that quote's going to make SC play better, then that will make them play better. I don't know. We don't motivate that way here."
James Harbin, a senior walk-on defensive back, was arrested during the weekend on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery.
Harbin, 22, was arrested Saturday at 10:20 p.m. by Southwest Division officers of the Los Angeles Police Department and was booked early Sunday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department website. He was released Sunday night after posting bond for $20,000 bail, the website said.
Harbin, who was in for a few plays against Colorado, was absent from Monday's morning workout.
"An issue came up this weekend with him — we're still looking into it and I don't have all the information right now," Kiffin said.
Harbin, who played at Harbor City Narbonne High and Los Angeles Southwest College, could not be reached for comment. He is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 1.
Linebacker Dion Bailey (concussion), safety Jawanza Starling (rib) and running back Marc Tyler (shoulder) were limited in practice. Linebacker Hayes Pullard (neck) did not practice. … Kickoff for USC's Nov. 19 game at Oregon will depend on the outcome of Saturday's game between Oregon and Stanford. If Oregon wins, USC and the Ducks will kick off at 5 p.m. on Channel 7. If Oregon loses, USC and the Ducks will kick off at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN.