Eagles’ drafting of USC’s Matt Barkley? Lane Kiffin saw it coming
Matt Barkley gets his first real taste of the NFL when the Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie mini-camp opens Friday.
Many fans and NFL draft prognosticators were shocked when new Eagles Coach Chip Kelly drafted the former USC quarterback.
But USC Coach Lane Kiffin was not.
Kiffin said Monday that Kelly spoke with him about Barkley “early on” in the evaluation process and later sent the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach to Southern California to work out the Trojans’ four-year starter. This despite Barkley’s not appearing, on the surface anyway, to be an ideal fit for the fast-paced spread-option offense that Kelly ran at Oregon.
Kiffin said he thought at first it might be “a smoke screen,” but the Eagles’ decision to draft Barkley with the first pick in the fourth round proved that Kelly was “serious all along.”
“It’s a great organization for Matt,” Kiffin said during a teleconference of Pac-12 Conference coaches.
Barkley joins an Eagles team that includes quarterbacks Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon.
Barkley’s lack of mobility was seen as a drawback, but he has said he expects Kelly to install “‘something of a hybrid system” and was looking forward to competing for the starting job.
Meanwhile, Kiffin reiterated that there was not a specific timetable to choose Barkley’s successor. Sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler and freshman Max Browne were listed as co-starters on USC’s end-of-spring depth chart.
The Trojans are tentatively scheduled to open training camp Aug. 3 in preparation for their Aug. 29 opener at Hawaii.
“Whenever it shows itself, it will show itself,” Kiffin said of his impending decision. “Obviously, for us, the earlier the better, but we want to make sure we’re making a fair decision.”
Kiffin said all players other than receiver George Farmer, who will redshirt after suffering a major knee injury during spring drills, are expected to be ready physically when training camp opens.
The four-team College Football Playoff is set to debut after the 2014 regular season and several Pac-12 coaches said they favored standardizing schedules so that all conferences play the same number of conference games.
Pac-12 teams play nine conference games. The Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences play eight and the Big Ten announced that it would move from eight conference games to nine in 2017.
“In order to feed into one playoff,” Stanford Coach David Shaw said, “everyone needs to travel a similar road to get there.”
Shaw said he would “love to see” the playoff expanded to eight teams at some point.
Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich, who succeeded Kelly after serving as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator for four seasons, said he was proceeding “business as usual” and would not comment on the school’s coming appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
The NCAA investigated Oregon’s alliance with a Texas-based scouting service from 2008 to 2011. According to documents released last month, the school and the NCAA concluded that “major violations” were committed. But they disagree on the severity of the violations.
Despite Kelly’s departure, Oregon is regarded as one of the favorites to win the conference title.
Asked if he would be more or less conservative than Kelly in certain situations, Helfrich said, “I have no idea. We’ll find out.”
UCLA Coach Jim Mora said that two offensive line positions are open, that a group of running backs might be able to replace the production of former star Johnathan Franklin and that the Bruins need players in the secondary to step up during fall camp. . . . USC is coming off a 7-6 season, but Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said, “From a talent standpoint, ‘SC is still the benchmark. I don’t think there’s any question they’ve had the most talent in the league for many years.” . . . Former USC quarterback Jesse Scroggins recovered from foot surgery in time to participate in the final week of spring practice at Arizona. Scroggins, who played last season at El Camino College, completed six of 17 passes for 44 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona’s spring game, with an interception. “Jesse’s come in with a really good attitude,” Wildcats Coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I think he knew that it was kind of his last chance. He had bounced around a little bit. I think he’s matured and understands that this is an opportunity for him to prove himself all over again.”
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