Pac-12: Matt Barkley shalt not call Vontaze Burfict ‘a dirty player,’ or other mean names

Dr. Saturday

I don't know if Matt Barkley believes in "karma," or whatever his version of it is called, but I do suspect he felt like something was out to get him last Saturday night: Just a few days after calling out Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict as "a dirty player" in the Los Angeles Times, Barkley was picked off by Burfict, forced into two other turnovers, sacked twice and generally harassed throughout a 43-21 loss, the Trojans' first blemish and Barkley's worst game of the young season. After that, even bringing up the "dirty player" thing again just feels like piling on.

So go ahead and pile away, Pac-12. Pile away:

WALNUT CREEK, Calif.-- The Pac-12 has responded to public comments made by USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley about an opposing student-athlete prior to last Saturday's football game against Arizona State.

Barkley has been reprimanded for his derogatory and inflammatory comments about an opponent.

"All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12's policies on Sportsmanship and Standards of Conduct, which call for our student athletes to treat opponents with respect and create and ensure a collegiate atmosphere in which to conduct competition," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "In these circumstances, Mr. Barkley's comments were a clear violation of Conference rules and he is being appropriately reprimanded."

Actually, according to Barkley, he only called Burfict dirty as a sign of respect, a nod to "a wonderful player" he's had to face on an annual basis since high school. "Of course everyone blew it up, but what you didn't hear is that it was coming from a place of respect for Vontaze," Barkley said Tuesday. "I know him as a player and a person and think he is a wonderful player, which is what I said. … It doesn't change what I said about him — I think it's still true — but you've got to be careful because people twist your words and do whatever they want with them."

Which is an entirely plausible explanation, frankly, because no one in his right mind would ever intentionally say anything to make Vontaze Burfict angry. In fact, there's a good chance the conference office understands this, and sympathizes with Barkley, and is merely leaping at the opportunity to build goodwill in case of future conflict with the most feared man in college football. Remember: Whatever happens after the play, he's not "dirty." He's "intense." And those aren't "penalty flags," Vontaze. That's just how they start the next round of charades.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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