The USC junior threw three TD passes to lead the Trojans past Notre Dame 31--17 last Saturday. He faces undefeated Stanford at home this week.
DAN PATRICK:When's the last time you had a big name come to a USC practice?
MATT BARKLEY: I don't remember. It was probably one of our own players coming back—Mark Sanchez or Matt Leinart.
DP:This is what happens when you're on probation: No Snoop Dogg at practice.
MB: Or the likes of Will Ferrell and others.
DP:Fair-weather fans, it sounds like.
MB: Somewhat. But our fans have been pretty spectacular this year, despite all the junk that's been going around. Especially our student section. They've been pretty rockin'.
DP:I read that the fans at Notre Dame weren't very supportive.
MB: You're going to hear stuff like that from fans wherever you go. I've definitely heard worse. Their stadium was electric though. It was pretty fun.
DP:What did they say to you?
MB: You get everything. Golden Boy. Cali boy. Pretty boy.
DP:How do you compare to Andrew Luck?
MB: We're similar in that we both play in pro-style offenses and in the way we approach the game. I know we both want to be the best. I think it's funny how people will compare us when in reality we're not even playing against each other. I'm playing against Stanford's defense.
DP:Is there any reason to think you'll overtake Luck as the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft?
MB: I think people underestimate my arm strength. Surprisingly, I've been overthrowing receivers.
DP:Are you doing that on purpose to prove you have a strong arm?
MB:[Laughs.] Maybe I overestimate my receivers.
DP:When's the last time you made your coach, Lane Kiffin, mad?
MB: He always seems angry on the sideline. But for the most part I've been making him pretty happy this year. Against Cal he was a little mad that [Trojans receiver] Robert Woods didn't get enough yards.
DP:How angry can Kiffin really look wearing a visor?
MB: It's a very attractive look that he has. I don't know how you can be mad at the guy. People don't see him off the field. He's fine in our meetings. He has a good time.
DP:When will you decide about the NFL?
MB: I still have a season to play. It's a lot more than just football. It's a family decision as much as a business decision. We really have something special with our team. A lot of our guys on offense will be back. A lot of pros on both sides of the argument. It will be a tough decision.
DP:Will you wait to see what Luck does?
MB: I think it's pretty obvious that he's leaving. I don't think I'll wait on anyone to make that decision.
DP:I understand you play guitar. What's your go-to song when you're trying to impress a woman?
MB: You usually break out a little acoustic medley. A little John Mayer. There's a nice medley with Foo Fighters, Jason Mraz and Five for Fighting. A nice little acoustic set. That's how I won over my girl.
"I like Bryant [Gumbel], and I like that show a lot... . [But] it's disrespectful to black people. I don't think slaves are making $5.1 million a year."
—Charles Barkley on Gumbel's comparing NBA commissioner David Stern to a plantation owner on HBO's Real Sports
Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder said the trash-talking wasn't too bad in his first NFL start on Sunday. The only remark that surprised him came from Packers linebacker Clay Matthews: "He told me I need to stop running because I wasn't Tim Tebow."... The early success of rookie QBs like Ponder, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton can be traced to the sophistication of the college passing game. Dalton told me the play-calling at TCU was very similar to what he's doing in Cincinnati. "That whole transition was a lot easier than I expected," he said... . Cal Ripken Jr. was surprised by recent stories about baseball players drinking beer during games. Ripken had a good alibi for being oblivious: "I was out on the field playing all the time."... Tony Kornheiser celebrated the 10-year anniversary of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption last week. He admitted that he didn't think the groundbreaking show would succeed. "It's not that I almost passed on it," Kornheiser said. "I just thought it would be a colossal failure."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
PETER READ MILLER (BARKLEY)
WILLIAM E. AMATUCCI JR./GETTY IMAGES (KORNHEISER)
NOEL VASQUEZ/GETTY IMAGES (DALTON)
CLIFF WELCH/ICONSMI (PONDER)