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USC's Matt Barkley given Pacific 12 reprimand for comments

A remark about Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict is called 'derogatory and inflammatory.' The Trojans quarterback, however, also says Burfict is 'a wonderful player.'

September 27, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict points and yells at USC quarterback Matt Barkley during the Trojans' 43-22 loss Saturday.
Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict points and yells at USC quarterback… (Norm Hall / Getty Images )

USC quarterback Matt Barkley rarely, if ever, shies from giving straightforward answers when asked for his opinion.

But Barkley's published comments about Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict were apparently too candid for the Pacific 12 Conference.

On Tuesday, the Pac-12 reprimanded Barkley for "derogatory and inflammatory comments" he made about Burfict before last week's game at Tempe, Ariz.

Barkley told The Times' Baxter Holmes that, based on his experience playing against Burfict in high school, he thought the former Corona Centennial High star was "a dirty player."

"His switch is always on," Barkley said. "And it's not a good switch."

Barkley said Tuesday morning after practice that he had also said that Burfict was "a wonderful player" and that his comments were made out of respect.

But Tuesday afternoon, the Pac-12 released a statement from Commissioner Larry Scott announcing the reprimand.

"All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12's policies on sportsmanship and standards of conduct, which call for our student-athletes to treat opponents with respect and create and ensure a collegiate atmosphere in which to conduct competition," Scott said. "In these circumstances, Mr. Barkley's comments were a clear violation of conference rules and he is being appropriately reprimanded."

USC Coach Lane Kiffin issued a statement shortly afterward.

"We talked to Matt right after he made that comment and told him that it was not appropriate. He understood," Kiffin said. "Despite this reprimand, Matt Barkley represents everything that is good about college athletics. He is one of the finest student-athletes I have ever been around. You will not find a person with higher character or values."

Burfict intercepted a pass by Barkley in the second quarter of the Sun Devils' 43-22 victory.

When asked about Barkley's comments after the game, Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson said, "If you are going to say something, you better watch what you say and that is kind of what happened."

In light of Erickson's reaction, Barkley was asked Tuesday if he would be apprehensive about speaking honestly about what he thought about players and other subjects.

"Nah," he said. "It was funny after hearing about that. Of course, everyone blew it up, but what you didn't hear what I said was that it was coming from a place of respect for Vontaze. I played with him for so long, 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 guy, 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 him — I think it's still true."

Quick hits

Linebacker Lamar Dawson (ankle) and running back Amir Carlisle (ankle) did not practice. … Kiffin said senior cornerback T.J. Bryant has not been dressing for games because "we're trying to redshirt T.J. so he can improve."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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