an Oregon grad on The Bleacher Report. The LA Times, sensing the bulletin board potenti..."/> an Oregon grad on The Bleacher Report. The LA Times, sensing the bulletin board potenti..."/>

Two Letters to Matt Barkley


This was posted originally by

an Oregon grad on The Bleacher Report

. The LA Times, sensing the bulletin board potential, picked it up and posted it on their forum.

I, naturally, felt inspired enough to write my own letter to Matt Barkley about the upcoming match-up in Eugene. I would, admittedly, hope that the freshman phenomenon focuses more on the other guy’s letter. It would certainly fire me up.

Dear #7,

I feel like someone should apologize. It really isn’t fair for you to go through this. Maybe the blame falls on Mike Garrett. It’s his fault that you had to tip your hand so early, if we’re being honest. He’s the one who agreed to a home and away against Ohio St, with the away coming during your freshman year. It would have been so easy to do what the other teams do and schedule Charleston Southern, Toledo, or Boise St. for non-conference play. You would have done the same as you did against San Jose St and everyone would have kept on saying that you’re still an unproven freshman who hasn’t seen a real defense or hostile environment.

It would have been easy to wave off your stellar performance against Cal in a raucous Memorial Stadium (after all, a REAL team smoked them the week before). It may have been tough to dismiss your out-dueling of Jimmy “I will bring multiple championships to South Bend” Clausen as a fluke, but Notre Dame fans can convince themselves of a lot of things (“The Bush Push was an officiating travesty” and “No, I really think those PAC 10 officials called a really good game on Oct 17, and how about that trick play!”). But Mike Garrett had to send you and your teammates to the Horseshoe, where former Buckeye QB Kirk Herbstreit called it the loudest place he has ever been in, and you had to deliver The Drive. 106,000 screaming fans couldn’t stop what was a truly inspired and unquestionably brilliant stretch of football. The secret was out then.

Maybe it’s Pete Carroll who should apologize. He didn’t have to name you the starter over the experienced Mitch Mustain or the supposedly-steady Aaron Corp. Even if you did beat them out in camp to become the first true freshman to start at USC in history, Pete could have just kept you under wraps and out of the spotlight while settling for a 3 year veteran of his system or a guy who was 8-0 as a starter at Arkansas. But Uncle Pete put you in and you have yet to lose a game that you’ve played in and are on the watch list for the O’Brien award thanks to him and his “Always Compete” mantra.

Maybe Steve Sarkisian should apologize for recruiting you to a school that deals with haters from all sides, inside the conference and out. Maybe Corp should apologize for turning in the worst passing performance in the Carroll era against Washington, thus proving that you are much more than a nifty complement to a formidable running game. Maybe Mel Kiper Jr. should apologize for declaring that, barring injury or some cosmic cataclysm, you will be the #1 draft choice for the NFL in three years. Maybe Mark Sanchez should apologize for departing USC early for the fame money and success he has had thus far in the NFL, leaving you possibly four years worth of time in the most high-profile position in all of college football; the spot that produced Palmer, Leinart, and Sanchez himself.

The point is, someone, somewhere, should apologize. You just don’t deserve to have to deal with some crazed Oregon Ducks fan trumpeting the mythical 12th man of Autzen Stadium. You should be either on the bench or unheralded. But unfortunately, the conspirators I list above have forced you to have the season you did up to this point. Oregon fans should be sitting back silently waiting for Mitch or Aaron, or the unproven freshman that’s not on anyone’s radar (least of all Heisman Pundit, where you received votes last week from actual Heisman committee members) to come to their house and lose like USC has in the state of Oregon since 2005. But they aren’t. The “Zoo” animals are writing about “obliterating” your confidence on Halloween this Saturday night.

The reason: You’ve got them scared.

John David Booty was hurt and Mark Sanchez was just not ready for Autzen. He just wasn’t. And neither was entire the 2007 team. You are, and so are your teammates. They know that. Every fan in the PAC 10 will read the box scores and watch the highlights of two teams: theirs and USC. The Duckies saw you at the Shoe, and below Touchdown Jesus, and surrounded by a hoard of desperate and angry Golden Bear fans. They know that you and the current iteration of the Trojans are as close to a tailor-made Autzen Silencer as there can be. You can play with the guts, emotion, and drive to push the Buckeyes back in their own house, while keeping a steady hand and ice-cold nerve to complete three consecutive passes and manage a drive that killed the final 5:43 off the clock, wiped out the Beaver’s slimmest hope for a comeback á la Washington, and nearly made Carroll do backflips in glee last week. This team has had four of its six road games already, with each of them offering different, but still demanding challenges each time. Yes, it will be loud. Yes, there’s a lot at stake. Yes, Oregon is a dangerous team. Yes, the rain, the environment, and history go against the Trojans. But, yes, they are still scared of you, the 19-year-old kid with “nice hair.” Why?

Because they know that you have every intention and capability of making them apologize.

Fight On,

Jimmy Burke,

-Who does not pretend to speak for his team, school, or fellow fans, all of whom do their collective talking on gameday.