USC quarterback Matt Barkley has graced the cover of several national magazines during the preseason, but the senior achieved what he described as a longtime goal when he made the regional cover of Sports Illustrated’s college football issue.
Barkley said Wednesday that he has read the magazine since childhood and looked forward to one day joining other Trojans as cover subjects.
A photo of Barkley appears behind the words “Man of Troy.”
“It’s pretty cool to represent USC like that,” he said. “It’s almost, in a sense, that we’re back. So it makes me happy.”
Coach Lane Kiffin also is pleased.
“USC should be on the front of Sports Illustrated,” Kiffin said. “It should be a normal thing and so maybe we’re on our way back to being there.”
USC is ranked second in Sports Illustrated’s poll behind defending Bowl Championship Series champion Alabama.
Barkley is the 10th Trojans quarterback, and 132nd person with a USC affiliation, to appear on a Sports Illustrated cover, according to USC.
Matt Leinart leads all USC quarterbacks with six cover appearances and Mark McGwire leads all USC athletes with 11, the school said.
Other Trojans quarterbacks to grace the cover: Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, John David Booty, Todd Marinovich, Rodney Peete, Jimmy Jones, Rudy Bukich and former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren.
Barkley is one of five regional quarterback cover boys, joining Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Michigan’s Denard Robinson.
The last time USC players appeared on the college football preview cover was in 2008, when Sanchez appeared flanked by linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing.
“I hope,” Barkley said of his cover appearance, “it’s not the last one.”
Bush not eager to return
Former USC running back Reggie Bush, who lost the 2005 Heisman Trophy in the wake of a scandal that saw the NCAA hammer the Trojans with severe sanctions, said on Dan Patrick’s national radio show that he has not wanted to return to USC and would not go back even if he could.
Bush also said he had returned his Heisman to the Heisman Trust. The Heisman Trust confirmed that Bush returned the trophy.
As part of its sanctions, USC was ordered to permanently disassociate from Bush and remove all references to him on campus, including the school’s Heisman that was displayed in Heritage Hall.
Bush, now playing for the Miami Dolphins, said he follows USC football along with all colleges.
“I’m a sports fan,” he said. “I’m not just an athlete who plays football.”
Patrick asked Bush about his “status with USC football” and explained that Athletic Director Pat Haden had said on the show that Bush was not allowed to be around the program.
“I haven’t wanted to go back, so I don’t feel like that’s an issue,” Bush said. “So even if it was I wouldn’t go back.”
Kiffin, USC’s offensive coordinator in 2005, said after practice that he heard from Bush in regard to the recent death of former lineman Fred Matua.
Kiffin has invited such players as Sanchez to address the Trojans, and he said he would do the same with Bush if the NCAA sanctions did not mandate the disassociation.
“I don’t think anybody’s ever questioned the way that Reggie worked, the way that he practiced, the way he prepared,” Kiffin said. “He was one of the best practice players we’ve ever had.”
Sophomore running back D.J. Morgan said Bush’s on-the-field accomplishments speak for themselves.
“Our coach always uses him as an example of how he stayed after practice and worked hard every day,” Morgan said. “I think everyone would enjoy having him here.”
Freshman defensive lineman DeVante Wilson suffered a knee injury Tuesday and will have season-ending surgery in the next two weeks and redshirt, Kiffin said. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Wilson also had knee surgery last year. ... Offensive tackle Aundrey Walker performed a few non-contact drills during the morning practice, but freshman Max Tuerk continued to work with the first-team offense on both morning and afternoon sessions. ... Redshirt freshman receiver Victor Blackwell made several outstanding catches. ... The Trojans practiced again at Dedeaux Field, the campus baseball stadium.