On Barkley

A commentator on this blog once gave me sound advice amounting to this: “Your duty as a college football fan is to root for the non-starting quarterback.”

The quarterback competition in question was John David Booty, with an injured thumb, versus Mark Sanchez.

The above advice is unsound when applied to names like Tebow – who the hell is Florida’s backup, anyway? I think it might be the transfer from Texas John Might-Be-Named-Brantley, but this is shooting from the hip at best – and Leinart. It’s very unsound when you’re Washington State or Michigan. The former had to hold campus tryouts last season to flesh out the depth chart, and the latter attempted to suit up med school cadavers midway through the Big Ten slate.

Still, it’s sound advice. I was fine with Aaron Corp. More than fine, really. He shredded defenses at Orange Lutheran High and made a mockery of the CIF state championship game. He’s mobile, which is nice. (Correction: he’s mobile, which is fucking awesome in ways I can’t begin to explain but have something to do with a primordial fear of quarterbacks who can run and are from Houston and have the initials V.Y.) He avoided interceptions. That’s a big one, considering this season’s road schedule is going to hinge on turnover ratio. He’s put in his time, and who doesn’t want to see that rewarded?

Guilty as charged. I wanted Barkley to start. My bone marrow wanted Barkley to start. The bone marrow of my unborn great-grandchildren, who will one day tend to hydroponic soybean and hemp farms on Mars and probably make a killing off the neural stimulant black market in Pavonis Base Two, want Matt Barkley to start. I can accept this wholehearted devotion to potential even if its going to hurt a seemingly nice elite athlete like Aaron Corp, who must feel a bit bewildered right now.

I wonder at the Willy Pipp comparisons. Baseball is almost always a game about being still. Major league players all seek to find that magical line called statistical precedent and straddle it; I think if they were offered the opportunity to bat .700 for a single season or bat .350 for fifteen years they’d probably pick the latter. Perfect game, or twenty wins? Unassisted triple play in a call up game from Vasalia, or a career full of gold gloves? Aaron Corp is no Wally Pipp, because even one game can make a hero out of a college football player. Look at UCLA’s Patrick Cowan. Google his name and you’ll get to watch his gray matter ramify out his facial orifices as Rey Maualuga rearranges his cranium into something like a Mandelbrot set on acid, but UCLA fans will always remember him as the Guy Who Denied USC A Ticket To The Dance. Aaron Corp’s story so far is pure tragedy in a way Pipp’s never could’ve been. He was the starting quarterback at USC and he would’ve kept that job if he’d simply won. Gehrig was always going to be greater than Pipp, whether it was that day or some other day. Corp’s only chance was against Ohio State. We all knew it. It’s a shame he won’t get it, because even if Barkley flounders there’s no way the Golden One will ride the pine for the next two years. Pete Carroll is no gambler. He’s goofy and slightly retarded in that endearing vapid cheerleader kind of way, but he knows what’s up. Matt Barkley is his ticket to The Dance, which is incredibly odd to say because the starting quarterback for a championship team has been, very often over the last few years in both college and pro, the guy who doesn’t lose the game.

Corp was the respectable, dependable, sane choice. But Carroll – and I – want something grander, even if the only grandiose move right now is to build for next year. Ask me again after Ohio State and I might have a different answer, but for now I feel bad for Corp and holy fucking shit Matt Barkley is going to start on Saturday.

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