Matt Barkley Q&A
USC quarterback Matt Barkley threw 39 touchdowns last season and was a hot NFL prospect. But he made the decision to come back for his senior year and the chance to play for a national championship.
Q. Given what you guys went through with a two-year, NCAA-imposed bowl ban, how much can you empathize with the players at Penn State?
A. Their situation's completely different. I know what it was like for us. We'll see how they handle it. Hopefully it can turn out well. For us, we maintained the positive attitude at all times. We didn't ever talk about the sanctions. We confided in one another and focused on the now and winning each game we were presented.
Q. Going back four years, there were gloom and doom predictions about what the NCAA bowl ban and recruiting sanctions were going to do to the program. What gave you the conviction that you would be where you are now, on the doorstep of a national championship?
A. To tell you the truth, we didn't know we would be here today when we were dealt the sanctions. There was never any thought of leaving, never any thought of doing anything other than standing up and facing the "Giant" in a sense. I think it's clear my love for USC ... and I wasn't going to give it up for just two (bowl) games we couldn't play in. So I haven't looked back.
Q. When you decided to return after last season,
A. I know I made the right decision, no matter what. I'm not going to happen any regrets. Obviously, we have lofty goals this year in terms of what we're going to do as a team. But nothing can take away from how special this year is going to be for us.
Q. Besides probably the media, who in your life -- your friends or your family -- is treating you differently right now because you are perhaps the Heisman Trophy front-runner?
A. All my close friends know not to treat me differently. They've treated me the same forever. My friends aren't going to suck up to me.