Barkley, 'this sucks'

USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley won't be taking the field on Saturday for senior day when the Trojans host top-ranked and undefeated Notre Dame.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- There is no way to easily put it and Matt Barkley didn't exactly explain it lightly. "This sucks," the usually reserved quarterback said after USC's practice on Tuesday.

He's right. It does suck.

Barkley put off going to the NFL for a year to return to Troy his senior season. "Unfinished business" he called it. By now, we all know how it's gone. USC went from the top-ranked preseason team to falling out of the polls. Barkley went from Heisman frontrunner to Heisman long shot, now not even mentioned in the same breath as players in contention for the prestigious trophy. With a 7-4 record and rival Notre Dame coming to L.A. on Saturday, this season just didn't pan out like it was supposed to and it certainly isn't ending the way a player so loyal to the program deserves it to.

On Saturday not only will USC host the undefeated and top-ranked Irish, but the Trojan seniors will be honored on the field during their last home game.

Noticeably absent from the starting lineup will be No. 7. Barkley won't be taking the field with his teammates for one final play in the Coliseum. In fact, he'll never play in the storied stadium again after suffering a sprain to his right shoulder last weekend in the Trojans' loss to UCLA.

"I can't feel worse for a family and for a kid," explained Coach Lane Kiffin after practice Tuesday. "The fact that he's not running down that tunnel for his last game."

"It sucks not being able to run out of the tunnel on senior day," Barkley said. "But I don't think one game will define my time here at USC."

He's right, it won't. This season of historic shortcomings might sting in the heart of Troy for some time, but eventually the disappointment will fade and the USC faithful will remember Barkley as one of the most loyal Trojans ever. A quarterback who lead his team through uncharted territory when the NCAA sanctions hit and even stuck around to try to lead the embattled program back to the top of the BCS.

Though his story could turn into a cautionary tale why players should bolt for the NFL when the opportunity arises, Barkley still stands firm behind his decision to come back to USC for a fourth season.

"I took a chance," he said, "and I don't think enough guys really go for it enough these days and I did and it didn't turn out the way I planned."

"Nothing is always as it's supposed to be in life and sometimes, often things go as planned, but you know a lot of the times things go not according to plan and so it's just something you have to deal with and I'll handle it and stay positive."

There's no doubt he will, just as there is no doubt when his name is announced before the game on Saturday, he will receive one of the greatest ovations in USC history.

"I don't regret it one bit."

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