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USC Football: Why USC Fans Don't Want Matt Barkley to Be a Heisman Front-Runner

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the California Golden Bears at AT&T Park on October 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Stephanie GravesContributor IIIJune 11, 2012

Why shouldn’t USC fans want Matt Barkley to be a Heisman front-runner?

Two words: Andrew Luck.

For those who remember the former Cardinal signal-caller, he seemed like a lock for the bronze trophy at the start of 2011. But Stanford didn’t completely live up to expectations and Baylor’s Robert Griffin’s exceeded them.

And that’s the problem.

Sometimes the Heisman isn’t about ability. It’s about expectations.

No one can say that Luck didn’t have the ability to earn the Heisman. He was the first-round draft pick for a reason. You can’t say he was that overrated.

Nor can anyone say—statistically or otherwise—that the Griffin-led Baylor team was better than the Luck-lead Stanford team. Put them head-to-head and Stanford would probably win.

Griffin and Luck were both exceptionally talented in very different ways, but Griffin has something working in his favor.

No one had any expectations for him.

People don’t really expect the Heisman Trophy winner to come from Baylor in the first place. No one had heard of the man they now call “RG3” this time last year.  

But everyone knew about Luck. And every voter had an idea of the kind of season he should have. There was no room for growth throughout the season. For some, he needed to exceed expectations in order to win.

And that’s not really fair, is it?

The same season that just earned him a job with the Indianapolis Colts could have earned him the coveted trophy. The reason it didn’t was because he didn’t match a preconceived notion that some voters had in their mind. And when they went looking elsewhere, they found a feel-good story in the making. When does Baylor athletics ever get any attention?

And though Griffin was indeed deserving, it didn’t mean that Luck wasn’t.

If you come into a season ranked No. 5 or No. 3, you have room to grow. But if you enter a season No. 1 it’s your ranking—or trophy—to lose and there is no place to go but down.

It actually would help Barkley if there were another quarterback that seemed like they might have an edge going into the season. Then let the season take its course.

Then voters might see the results for what they are and not in comparison to their expectations.

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