USC’s tough situation exposes Barkley’s best

first_imgThe word “leadership” is a difficult one to gauge.Plug it into a Yahoo! Images search and you’ll be greeted with a Bill Clinton poster, a slew of penguins marching and a compass unsure of its own direction.Fearless leader · Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley has done well this season on the field but continues to shine even brighter off it. – Tim Tran | Daily Trojan Peruse your nearest trusty dictionary and it’ll likely show an archaic definition such as: “The process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”Sure, these two methods will give you some sort of idea about what the word loosely represents, but both miss the mark when trying to decipher just how a 20-year-old quarterback with bleached-blond hair and the calmness of a native Southern Californian can lead an illustrious program through one of its darkest hours.The phrase “poster boy” doesn’t do justice to the role sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley has been asked to play since stepping onto campus two years ago.From billboards to jerseys to overpriced memorabilia, there is very little in the athletic program that doesn’t have some bearing of Barkley’s name, photograph or signature on it.So why does the sophomore deserve such adoration and promotion?If you look simply at the on-field performance, the answer won’t likely be found.But patrol the sidelines during practice or listen in on any team meeting, and it’s the typically laid-back Barkley who quickly commands the respect of all teammates within earshot.It’s largely assumed that a player in Barkley’s shoes automatically takes to the role of team leader. Look beyond the captain’s patch adorning the jersey of the Trojans’ quarterback and you’ll see that the distinguished title didn’t choose him; he chose it.“I think I am naturally a leader by example,” Barkley said. “I am always just trying to do the right thing and show other people by my actions what needs to be done. With my experiences last year, it has really helped me grow into a vocal leader.”Yet, behind the standard pride and honor that comes with being named a team captain, there exists a unique sincerity to Barkley that shouldn’t be overlooked because of one pent-up fanatical frustration over a late-game interception or failed offensive series.Success between the lines is still a week-to-week challenge for the former Mater Dei standout. For every crisp throw over the middle of the defense, the still-maturing gunslinger forces a ball into double coverage. And in a year where underclassmen have taken control of the weekly headlines, Barkley and the hype that surrounds his every move have taken a noticeable backseat.For an athlete whose ego has been stroked from day one, you’d suspect the USC quarterback to spend his time clamoring for the spotlight with each passing day.But Barkley doesn’t.As he watches his team struggle to find consistency through the first nine games of its topsy-turvy season, you’d assume he’d likely be consumed by the thought of greener pastures such as the NFL.But Barkley isn’t.Where capturing awards, pleasing scouts and garnering national buzz seemingly go hand in hand with the stereotypical label of what it means to be a starting college quarterback at a top-notch program, USC’s steady hand focuses his attention on a much greater task: remaining faithful to the team’s progression on and off the field.And it is in the moments that test this faith — the kind you won’t find making their way into a Saturday night box score — that truly shine a light on Barkley, the leader.When senior kicker Joe Houston made kicking field goals in the first half of Saturday’s contest against Arizona State look as painful as Sylvester Stallone attempting to box in Rocky VI, it was Barkley who lent encouragement as a barrage of boos bombarded Houston as he made his way to the sideline.As Pete Carroll’s get-out-of-Dodge routine took aback an entire team that looked up to the now-Seahawks coach like a father, it was Barkley who faced the uncertainty.It would have been very easy for the five-star prospect to protect his future from the turmoil that lay ahead of him and his teammates last summer. But instead of fleeing, he relished the opportunity to stay. As he saw it, it was a chance to lay the foundation for the team’s newly redefined identity — one built on strength of character, a collective vision and a steadfast commitment to trusting one another even during trying times.“I don’t think there are any single guys out there on this time, guys who are looking out for themselves,” Barkley said. “This year we are more united, and after all we’ve been through this off-season, that’s made us stronger as a team.”Looking at Barkley’s inherent leadership qualities on the football field, however, doesn’t tell you the whole story of the person he is off it.Although he is the first to admit he is not without flaws, the university’s golden arm puts the finishing touches on a rather impressive leadership-driven poster with a steady dose of community service and outreach to those in need. From volunteer missions in poverty-stricken regions of Mexico, to orphanage visits in South Africa, to helping jumpstart the Monarchs for Marines program for Camp Pendleton soldiers and their families, Barkley’s selfless actions speak for themselves.“I believe it is our responsibility to give back,” Barkley said. “Here, in Southern California, we are so blessed; those trips give you perspective of how grateful we are to live here. It really opens up your heart. Serving is just one of the best ways I think you can reach out.”And whether it is his service on the well-cut grass of the Coliseum or out in the community, the image of Barkley, the leader, is cut-and-dry.Don’t be fooled by his carefree nature, or the laid-back persona he naturally gives off regardless of what the final score reads.Because regardless of the Saturday night box scores or noticeable mistakes he is going to continue to make during his on-field maturation, Barkley is the straw that stirs USC’s drink.His ability to lead has nothing to do with his talented right arm or the endless amount of press clippings dedicated to his career, and everything to do with the rare desire and respect he has for what it means to be the field general for USC football.The Trojans’ 6-3 record might speak to an up-and-down campaign, where stability and unity are about as common as 60 minutes of quality football, but in a year where rebuilding and growth seem to be evident with just four games to play, having No. 7 at the center of progression means having the key to resurrecting the once-storied program in the hands of a well-qualified leader. “For The Love Of The Game” runs Wednesdays. 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Miguel Olivo bites off part of Alex Guerrero’s ear during Dodgers minor-league game

first_imgAfter the final out of the inning, the players returned to the dugout. Guerrero, who was due to bat fourth in the inning, was walking over to grab a helmet and bat when Olivo punched him, according to Guerrero’s agent Scott Boras.The game was delayed while teammates tried to separate Olivo and Guerrero. During the scrum, Olivo managed to bite off a portion of Guerrero’s left ear.Both players were removed from the game and immediately replaced.Since Guerrero bats right-handed and the injury is to his left ear, he might have difficulty putting on a batting helmet with a flap covering his left ear. Boras didn’t know how much time Guerrero would need to recover. “Obviously it’s a sizeable injury if you need a plastic surgeon,” Boras said. The Dodgers issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying “the baseball operations department is aware of the altercation and is conducting an investigation into the matter. The organization does not condone this type of behavior and will have no further comment at this time.”Guerrero and Olivo are currently on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, and both players have appeared in the major leagues this season. Guerrero, 27, signed a four-year, $28 million contract last October. He appeared in two games this season, striking out in his only at-bat, before being sent to Triple-A to hone his defense.Olivo, 35, attended spring training on a minor-league contract and was added to the Dodgers’ major-league roster April 30. He batted .217 with 12 strikeouts in 23 at-bats before he was optioned to Albuquerque on May 14.On the mendAngels outfielder Kole Calhoun went 2 for 5 and scored a run in the game, his fifth consecutive rehabilitation game with Salt Lake. Calhoun is batting .500 (11 for 22) in the five games and is “ready to go,” in the words of teammate David Freese.“(Calhoun) looked good,” said Freese, whose rehab assignment ended Monday. “Every day he got better. I think the thing with him is, recovering after a night game and getting back the next day, feeling like he’s progressing, and he is. He’s ready to get back here too.”Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that “there’s a chance” Calhoun could be back in Anaheim today. The 26-year-old right fielder has missed 31 games since turning his ankle in an April 15 game.Outfielder Josh Hamilton will began a rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. Hamilton said he’s never needed more than three minor-league rehabilitation games before coming off the disabled list in his career and “that’d be a good start.”Dane De La Rosa (shoulder) was expected to begin his rehab assignment with Salt Lake today.Also …Luis Jimenez was optioned to Salt Lake to make room for Freese on the Angels’ active roster. Jimenez batted .160 (4 for 25) in nine games and didn’t make an error in 22 chances at third base. … Scioscia declined to name his starter for Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. He hasn’t ruled out skipping Matt Shoemaker’s turn in the rotation in order to create roster space for the spate of players – up to six – returning from the disabled list in a seven-day span. “There won’t be any surprises,” Scioscia said. … Mike Trout was the Angels’ designated hitter for only the second time this year. Collin Cowgill started in center field. Dodgers prospect Alex Guerrero was taken to a plastic surgeon after a portion of his ear was bitten off by Albuquerque Isotopes teammate Miguel Olivo on Tuesday during a Triple-A game in Salt Lake City, Utah.Local police were called to the ballpark, which was hosting an estimated 12,000 elementary school students for the game at 10:30 a.m. local time. Authorities interviewed several witnesses about the incident but no charges had been filed as of Tuesday evening.The argument began during a pitching change with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Olivo, the Isotopes’ catcher, argued with the shortstop Guerrero over a play at second base, believed to be when Salt Lake Bees runner J.B. Shuck safely stole second base. Several teammates – first baseman Clint Robinson, second baseman Carlos Triunfel, third baseman Walter Ibarra – had to come between the players to prevent a fight from breaking out on the mound.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more