ESPN's Gratuitous Love Affair with Matt Barkley

c dockensCorrespondent IOctober 26, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass against the Oregon State Beavers on October 24, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

When watching ESPN one can’t help but notice their unapologetic, unabashed macho love for USC quarterback, Matt Barkley. The praise Matt Barkley receives rivals that of Tim Tebow and Tom Brady the other two poster boys of ESPN (contrary to Barkley the other two have earned the praise). I can barely watch ESPN on Saturday due to their overt prejudice for Barkley.

My first thought when watching the Matt Barkley lovefest, is how a non college football savvy person would interpret this hero worship of Matt Barkley.

They would probably think Barkley was an overlooked high-school player who went to some small college and tuned out to be a real diamond, and is leading his “little team that could” to face, and slay the giants of the college football world. When in reality it is one-hundred eighty degrees different.

Barkley was the most touted, most recruited player coming out of high school last year. His commitment to USC came as no surprise to the vast majority of the public. He, a true freshman, was selected as the starter for the Trojans prior to the start of this season.

Since his being named starter the good people at ESPN have fawned over him. They act as though the “Great” Matt Barkley is the savior of college football. In his first game Barkley face the “powerhouse” known as San Jose State and completed 15-19 passes for 233 yards and 1 touchdown.

Okay I understand that this is his very first college game…spare me the hearth warming stories people! Barkley plays for USC, who in my opinion is gratuitously overrated every year, as they always start top 10 and get “upset” by some middle school team or equivalent, but that is another story.

However, they are a legitimate top 25 program.  I fail to see how the most touted recruit in the nation leading a perennial top 25 team past a team whose only win is came against Cal Poly.

The second week of the season the Barkley lead Trojans travelled to Ohio State.  This game was supposed to be the first real test for USC and their “phenom” qb Matt Barkley. What a joke! This “first real test” had survived Navy the week before, and has a quarterback who is so inconsistent it is comparable for him having split personalities.

One minute you have Tyrelle Pryor who tossed three TDs against 3-1 Indiana, who has beaten such strong programs as Akron and Eastern Kentucky. The next minute Pryor commits four turnovers out of the teams five, in an embarrassing loss to Purdue. 

In hindsight the win here isn’t so impressive. However ESPN told the world how Barkley lead his team to a tough well earned victory over a mighty OSU team. If by lead they mean tossed an interception and no scores, and putting it all on the shoulders of your stellar running backs, Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find him chocking, and needing the RBs to do the heavy lifting,  to be leading them over OSU.

USC lost their next game to Washington and boy, did ESPN reiterate that “USC lost a close one with a back up quarterback.” They made sure we knew it wasn’t Barkley’s fault. After reiterating it was Corp who was at fault, ESPN would then tell us that if Matt was healthy USC would have won.

Sorry ESPN, but I don’t think a QB who has one score and  one pick is a polarizing leader who could inspire your team, full of blue chip recruits to beat a team who was WINLESS the year before. As a matter of fact the back up of most teams should be able to lead USC over Washington, if USC is as good as ESPN and the rest of the media seem to think; which clearly they aren’t if they fell to Washington without their “stellar” freshman qb.

After the “upset” at Washington, USC lead by their messiah Matt Barkley would face Washington State. In this game Barkley would throw for 2 touchdowns and 247 yards. These good, but not great stats were enough to have ESPN analysts raving over this phenomenal young man.

What they don’t tell you is Washington State ranks in the bottom three teams in the nation against the pass.

Funny how ESPN forgets to mention how poor Washington State is against the pass when it is Barkley and USC playing them, you can bet had it been Penn St., Florida, Alabama, etc they would have reminded the viewers that Washington State isn’t known for their defensive prowess. USC managed 247 pass yards against a team who allowed over 400 pass yards to SMU and Hawaii.

Following his “breakout” game vs Washington state Barkley managed to throw an interception and zero, zilch, nada, no touchdowns against the nation's eighth worst pass defense. At this point Barkley has thrown three TDs and two interceptions, and yet ESPN continued to talk up this mediocre play from the nation’s top freshman prospect.

Barkley managed to throw two touchdowns and just one int against the Irish, and threw two picks and two scores against Oregon State. For the season Barkley has seven touchdowns and five interceptions. These are hardly acceptable numbers for a starting quarterback at many mid level teams, but abysmal for a quarterback of a top 25 team, and such a highly touted recruit.

Now, I will admit Barkley is a true freshman and for a player in his position he is doing good, not great but good. I think he will become a dependable quarterback for the Trojans, however I don’t understand these man crushed many ESPN analysts seem to have with him.

He does have a higher amount of pass yards per game, but has two less touchdowns and the same number of picks as Tate Forcier, a true freshman QB from Michigan, and Forcier played only two snaps in one game, so it isn’t as though he has more games to inflate his touchdown number.

Granted, Barkley has more yards, Forcier’s stats come against two top teams and a few mediocre defenses, while the opponents of Barkley have been vastly inferior.