Print and Go Back ESPN.com: USC [Print without images]

Monday, December 5, 2011
Luck edges Barkley for a Heisman finalist slot

By Pedro Moura

The reason Matt Barkley didn't get chosen as a Heisman Trophy finalist wasn't because of the NCAA sanctions against USC that kept the Trojans out of the Pac-12 Conference championship game and a subsequent bowl game this season.

The reason he's not going to New York, rather, is a lot more simple than that: It's all about Luck, as in Andrew Luck, the Stanford quarterback.

Luck, the Cardinal's junior quarterback, clearly took away a number of votes from Barkley. When you have two similar players in the same region and (1) Player A beat Player B in a head-to-head matchup and (2) Player A also started the year as the nation's most-hyped player, it's hard to expect voters to ditch Player A for Player B.

Player A is Luck. He didn't have a monster year and doesn't appear on track to win the Heisman after all -- Baylor's Robert Griffin III does -- but it's hard to say it's a gross unjustice that voters included him over Barkley on their lists.

Remember, voters include only their top three. Putting Barkley in the top three essentially required disregarding the country's most impressive statistical performance (Griffin), going against the favorite for most of the year (Luck) or ignoring all other positions than quarterback (Trent Richardson, Montee Ball and Tyrann Mathieu).

It'd be interesting to see how many fourth- and fifth-place votes Barkley received. But how much does that mean, really?

More important, many would say, is what Monday's news means to the chance of Barkley coming back for a senior season in 2012. To that, we say this: Very little.

Barkley has known all year he wasn't going to win. It's not as if being voted the fourth-best player was going to suddenly satisfy him so much so that he would then feel comfortable leaving school early.

His decision is not going to come for a while. But we will find out Saturday night just how many votes Barkley did get for the Heisman.