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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Kiffin still backs Barkley

By Pedro Moura

One day after Matt Barkley's comments about Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict stirred up even more controversy when the Pac-12 reprimanded the USC quarterback, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin spoke out in support of his junior signal-caller.

Barkley told the Los Angeles Times leading up to USC's game against Arizona State that Burfict was, among other things, a "dirty player." The Pac-12 conference didn't do or say anything on the topic until after the game, but Kiffin said he had already talked to Barkley about it beforehand.

"We weren’t pleased with it, we talk about it to our team all the time, our guys have done well with that, so unfortunately Matt said that," Kiffin said Wednesday. "It didn’t have anything to do with the game.

"But as I said yesterday, and I’ll always say, I don’t know how you find a better person to represent college athletics and what we want Trojans to be than Matt Barkley on and off the field in everything that he does.”

The Pac-12's decision to punish Barkley in a sort of confrontation with Burfict was questioned by some. Kiffin said that was because of what Barkley has said publicly in his first two and a half years at USC.

"I’m sure there’s people that will say ‘Really, Matt Barkley? Come on,' " Kiffin said. "But it says a lot for the standards that he is setting.”

Barkley is only made available to speak to the media on Tuesdays. But Kiffin kept on with his support in speaking to the media after practice, reasoning that the quarterback is a straight-shooter at all times with an inability to not speak his mind.

"I think Matt, the thing you got to remember about Matt is, Matt can’t lie," Kiffin said. "He can’t really say anything different than the way he feels. It’s who he is.

"So he feels, that’s just the way that he feels."

Asked if he had ever seen a conference publicly reprimanded a player, Kiffin had a quick retort ready.

"I can recall where a coach was," he said, a not-so-veiled reference to his days at Tennessee, when he was often called out by SEC officials for various comments and actions.