Matt Barkley didn’t have much time to be disappointed about not being among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
About 15 minutes after the announcement Monday afternoon, USC’s quarterback and his parents were in Heritage Hall to meet with Coach Lane Kiffin and Athletic Director Pat Haden. The conference, which lasted about an hour, was to discuss Barkley’s impending decision about whether to turn pro or return to the Trojans for a final season.
“By no means did I come to any conclusions today,” Barkley said in a statement. “It was just the start of us gathering the facts. There is a long way to go in this process and no timetable. When I make my decision, I will let everyone know.”
Barkley who passed for 39 touchdowns and led the Trojans to a 10-2 record, has until mid-January to declare for the NFL draft. He has said that he would seek counsel from NFL personnel, agents and close friends starting this week. Like most draft-eligible players, Barkley has filed paperwork with the NFL seeking an evaluation of where he might be selected.
Kiffin had campaigned for Barkley to be among the Heisman finalists, but the junior was not among the top five vote-getters.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama running back Trent Richardson are finalists for an award that will be presented Saturday in New York.
Ball rushed for 32 touchdowns and caught six touchdown passes for an 11-2 Wisconsin team that advanced to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive season. The Badgers play Oregon on Jan. 2.
Griffin passed for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns and also ran for nine touchdowns, leading Baylor to a 9-3 record and an Alamo Bowl matchup against Washington.
Luck, the presumed top pick in the NFL draft, was a Heisman finalist last year. He passed up the opportunity to turn pro and returned to lead the Cardinal to an 11-1 record and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State. Luck passed for 35 touchdowns.
Mathieu, nicknamed “Honey Badger,” was a big-play catalyst for top-ranked Louisiana State as a defensive player and kick returner. He intercepted two passes and returned two punts for touchdowns.
Richardson has averaged 131.9 rushing yards a game and has scored 23 touchdowns for an Alabama team that lost only to LSU. The Crimson Tide will get the opportunity to avenge the defeat in the Bowl Championship Series title game in New Orleans.
Minutes after the finalists were announced, Barkley wrote on his Twitter feed: “Congrats to all the Heisman finalists, what a great year of football!”
Later, in a statement, he cited USC’s move to No. 5 in the Associated Press media poll and said: “Congratulations to all the Heisman finalists. They are all great players, and I wish them the best this Saturday and with the rest of their football careers. I thought we gave it a good run this year to get an invitation to New York for the ceremony, but more importantly I am really excited that our team’s accomplishments are being recognized.”
USC is not eligible to participate in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions related to former Heisman winner Reggie Bush. The sanctions made USC ineligible for the Pac-12 Conference title game last Friday, which would have given Barkley a final opportunity to sway Heisman voters.
Barkley had been making a push for Heisman consideration after dynamic performances against Oregon and UCLA.
He passed for four touchdowns in the Trojans’ 38-35 upset of Oregon at Eugene, Ore.
He passed for six touchdowns in a 50-0 rout of UCLA, tying his own school record for touchdown passes in a game and breaking the Pac-12 record of 38 touchdown passes in a season set by USC’s Matt Leinart in 2003. Leinart won the Heisman Trophy in 2004.