UCLA Football: The Symbolism Behind Anthony Barr’s Sack Of Matt Barkley

For UCLA players, driving Matt Barkley into the ground late in the game was the icing on top of the cake. The Bruins had struggled to get to the stud quarterback all game long, and though they’d made him uncomfortable, they never totally got to him.

The game was well in hand, with just under two minutes to go and UCLA holding a 38-28 lead. But they had to get Barkley, just once. After four years of being demolished by the All-American quarterback, they couldn’t let the Trojan go four years without having just one defining moment over him.

Cue UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr’s vicious sack, which drove Barkley head first into the turf.

Of course, you don’t applaud the injury. Any good fan would hope that Barkley would end up just fine (spoiler: he wouldn’t), and that the kid would play against Notre Dame and finish out his career as a Trojan with a victory over another one of their heated rivals.

The hit, though? That’s a different story. It was legal. It was brutal. And it symbolized a new turn in this rivalry, and in the Los Angeles football dynamic, as we know it.

The destruction of Barkley signified the end of the Trojans’ reign as the most dominant football team in Los Angeles and as the regional hegemon of the Western United States. For the past three years, USC would come back from what seemed to be hell, fighting off sanctions and becoming national title contenders the minute they became bowl-eligible. Matt Barkley was improving every year, and it seemed he’d unleash all hell on college football, forcing UCLA fans to wait just one more year, to beat this USC team without Matt Barkley.

That hit signified the fall of the hearts and spirit of Troy.

Barkley, for the past four years, gave these Trojans something to cheer for despite the sanctions and adversity. And although he struggled mightily all season, this game against UCLA was the Trojans’ last shot at being official Pac-12 South champs and earning one more shot at those damn Oregon Ducks, who have looked as vulnerable as ever. A Rose Bowl was entirely likely. All Southern Cal had to do was beat UCLA behind the golden arm of their beloved quarterback.

And then Anthony Barr drove Barkley — and the undying optimism of Troy — into the ground.

This was it, for these Trojans. After the constant optimism, the relentless “Fight Ons” and the endless talk of getting to a BCS bowl game after all these years, even with three losses on their resume, Barr crushed their hopes — in the form of Barkley — and thus, turned a new page in this UCLA-USC rivalry and, likely, in the Pac-12 pecking order.

It won’t be the same, this dynamic. USC is on shaky grounds with its head coach, that beloved quarterback will move on after his senior year, and a bevy of senior talent could be lost to the NFL. Meanwhile, UCLA returns all but one of its offensive linemen and has a star quarterback of its own that largely outperformed Barkley on Saturday night.

The perception of UCLA — as the perennial joke of the Pac-12 over the past decade — has changed. UCLA fans no longer can sigh, “This is the UCLA we’ve grown to know and hate.” This team legitimized itself by bringing down the most recent line of prolific Trojan quarterbacks and forcing him to eat turf, by putting the conference on notice, letting others know that this team was not to be screwed with anymore.

The Barkley sack will likely go down in history as one of the greatest moments for UCLA in this rivalry in the past decade and the turning point of the program. The quarterback that brought the onslaught that was 50-0, the kid who directly turned down UCLA to go to USC, the boy who was supposed to raise that sword after dragging a program up to the surface straight out of hell, was buried in the mud by an All-American in his own right.

That was the last that Barkley ever got to see of UCLA. He never redeemed himself by coming out for another play. The symbolism of optimism for USC had snapped his final snap against their arch-rivals and it ended with his face in the grass.

And Anthony Barr arose, nonchalantly, looking down at Barkley and over to his teammates, in triumph, but not in celebration. He may not have known it, but his demeanor became a symbol of just how routine this — UCLA’s dominance in the very near future — would become.

Barkley won’t get his last shot at Notre Dame, currently the top team in the nation. He’ll be back in time for the Sun Bowl, or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, or whatever bowl these Trojans find themselves in.

But he’ll know that the unfinished business he sought to complete would go unfinished. He’ll know that, in his final year at USC, he became the symbol of handing the Victory Bell over to these 2012 Bruins at the turn of another decade.

And he’ll know that, much like he was on the wrong side of that sack, he was on the wrong side of history.

 

Topics: Football, UCLA Bruins, Usc Trojans

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  • c2blum

    Matt _kley called, he’s wondering where his Bar went.
    Anthony Barr-Bar your table is ready!

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      I have a joke: Matt Barkley walks into a Barr.

      • Army vet

        SC fans attacking UCLA fans about class??? That’s like Bin Laden chastising Obama for having poor diplomacy skills after being killed.hahahah! Matt Barkley is smug kid who ate every word Pete carrol ever spewed, then upchucked it all after Barr knocked the crap out of him. Enjoy the rest of your career, it’s all down hill from here, courtesy of UCLA, but fight on!

        • GoJoeBruinUCLA

          GO BRUINS.

      • Army vet

        What has 2 legs, average ability and shouldn’t have even been considered for the Hiesman?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimiyo.brown Kimiyo Brown

    first of all, clearly y’all do not understand the definition of “fan” or “undying/constant optimism.” true fans would never say “this is the [insert school here] we’ve grown to know and hate.” no matter if your team is sanctioned or not, whether they’re ranked or not, fans support the team no matter what. that makes me sad that your “fans” are so fair-weather. also, “undying/constant optimism” is just that- UNDYING and CONSTANT. SC sacked your “star” QB what- 4 times? 5 times? congrats, ucla sacked Barkley once. one hit does nothing to change SC’s optimism. it’s cute you’re trying to turn the sack into some huge symbolic metaphor, but the truth is, ucla would have to beat SC many, many more times to overcome the 46-29-7 record, and need 19 more Rose Bowl wins to have your name on the stadium as many times as SC does. i’m extremely impressed at how thoroughly Jim Mora turned the ucla football team around, and excited that it’s finally turned into somewhat of a rivalry again; however, ucla’s got a long way to go before the “end of the Trojan’s reign as the most dominant football team in Los Angeles.” sorry, but 50-0 will trump 38-28 every time. second, having a gif file of Barkley getting injured and then directly under it saying “of course, you don’t applaud the injury”? so classy. y’all were so adamant about how “disrespectful” stabbing the 50 yard line was- what do you call a gif file of a player getting injured over and over? bruins, such a class act. no wonder everyone looks to your example…oh wait.

    • disqus_CWVq0Kphb6

      you just got outplayed in a football game and you respond with “yeah well we still beat you 50-0?” are you going to use that as an excuse again if you lose next year and every year until USC wins again?

      i read that and i see you rolling up “sore loser” and “true arrogance” into one personification, and to top it off, you have the audacity to talk about class. you have got to be kidding me.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        Don’t even reply to this one. She literally eats the vomit that Lost Angeles — an SC blog — spits out and then adopts it into her own viewpoint. Worth ignorin’, this one.

    • c2blum

      y’all – it’s not the injury, it’s the insult that keeps on giving

    • Army vet

      Hey Kimayo, how bad does it hurt? I’m sorry, I guess Coach Mora should’ve told Barr to take it easy. Yeah, we have a lot of ground to make up, but sure seems like the tide has turned in LA. Even SC fans like Mora better than Kiffin, recruits will too. See you at the Crapisium next year.

    • Army vet

      Glad you recognize that everyone looks to our example. Thanks for the story! Go Bruins

    • Army vet

      Oh, and if I recall, attendence dropped significantly during the first year of sanctions and only picked up when they started winning. Since they aren’t winning anymore, let’s see how many “fans” USC has. Your passion is cute, kind of turns me on.

  • NEIL VARGHESE

    Trojans celebrate Natties, Heismans, and the myriad of players that become stars in the NFL….yall celebrate the injury of a kid that LOVES his school, kicks ass in and outside of the classroom, helps people in Africa/Hati, and whose character exceeds that of any Ruin football player, past or present….Stay classy, my friend…

    • c2blum

      take your trolling bromance elsewhere.
      that being said, as a chicagoland bruin alum, I wish barkley wasn’t injured and still want the trojies to win this wknd.

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      Hey, Matt Barkley just called, he wants to know when you’re going to come over, says you owe him “a favor.” What’s that all about?

    • Army vet

      You mean what OJ and Bush won?

  • DJ

    UCLA may have beaten USC this year and may even do so again in years to come, but UCLA will never beat USC down! You have the win, you have the bell, but those Bruins that celebrate Barkley’s injury have no character, no class, no sportsmanship and are an embarrassment to UCLA….way to go Joe Bruin…instead of doing UCLA proud you only reinforced their weaknesses! Fight On USC! Fight On Matt Barkley!

    • c2blum

      it’s not about the injury, it’s the insult – you can wallow and lament all you want.
      hope suc wins this saturday so kitten can stay another year,,,

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        Nope, dude didn’t read it, he just spit out whatever that clown at Lost Angeles says. Matt Barkley was hit legally, so nothing to be ashamed of.

    • Army vet

      DJ, im afraid there is no classy way to say you are an idiot, but I will say it anyway.

      I’m laughing at people who think Barney was classy. I think he belongs in the mud where Barr left him.

  • Ricky Rod

    Fucla wins 2 games in 14 seasons vs. USC. They win Saturday’s game by 10 pts. and all of a sudden there’s a shift in the football landscape? It’s this kind of thinking that will break your hearts for another decade ‘ruins. You played a great game and still had to sweat bullets in the 4th. Enjoy the deserving victory. We’ll be coming back for our bell next year. 46-29-7. You can run 15 straight wins and still be behind us in the series. There is only 1 football team in LA that matters. FIGHT ON!

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      My ass we played a great game. We committed double the penalties, gave up 100 more yards than we gained, and threw for less passing yards and still won. We allowed Barkley three touchdowns, kept our foot off the gas for the second quarter and to start the third and still won. We should’ve destroyed SC and put our foot to their throats and we laid off.

      This rivalry switches off decades. USC won the 60s, 70s and 2000s, UCLA won the 80s and 90s (and, given the fact that you’re stuck with a lame duck coach next year, that the perception of UCLA has changed, that USC will suffer in recruiting after a coaching transition, and Mora is putting UCLA in the right direction, it’s likely we rip the 2010s).

      We know you’re scared, kid.

    • Army vet

      Ricky, Ricky, Ricky, you sound angry. Sorry I don’t care I am thinking about Stanford right now, a real team. If we beat you again at the crap hole next year what will you say? You may have been too young but the Bruins actually have the longest streak in the series, 8 wins. Does that break your heart? BTW, I do t think USC matters anymore, just a hunch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Shaundizzle2 Shaun Howard

    lmfaooo one win and yall think yall gonna win the national title next year… IM SLAYED

    • c2blum

      i know it’s south central, but what’s with all the y’all?
      SuC Journalism degrees can’t come any easier.

    • GoJoeBruinUCLA

      “LMFAOOO ROFLMFAO yall crazy bitches son yall crazy lol #needlesshashtag yall crazy” — SC fan.

    • Army vet

      No, just happy we beat y’all this year.

  • Paul Hernandez

    You don’t applaud the injury, yet have the gif repeating indefinitely. Nice. Way to go Joe Bruin. True colors and values show themselves in interesting and often unexpected ways. Have you reviewed this or other previous posts. It seems hate, anger, spite… are an intricate part of Joe Bruin’s posts. Unfortunately, Mr. Sandoval, through Joe Bruin, provides evidence of the true values of UCLA athletics, those listed previously. Congratulations on your victory Saturday.

    Paul

    • disqus_CWVq0Kphb6

      had barkley not gotten hurt, this gif would’ve been fine, but since he did it’s taboo? in case you can’t connect the dots, he’s celebrating the play, not the injury. you’re playing dumb for the sake of furthering your argument and no one is buying it. stop pretending like you’re taking the high road – your pretense is childish and you have no right to be condescending.

      • GoJoeBruinUCLA

        Yeah, didn’t see the GIF replay Barkley lying down over and over. It was a clean hit, so SC fans should quit their bitchin’.

        • Paul Hernandez

          I’m not complaining about the hit. I agree it was perfectly legal. However, the fact that Barkley was injured during the play is why you chose it. Case in point, you chose not to replay any of touchdowns, interceptions, or other highlights, just this one play. I love the high road comment. You make my point for me! By the way, what exactly is my pretense, other than pointing out the obvious?

          • GoJoeBruinUCLA

            Ha, you didn’t read the post as to why it was so significant, this hit. Like, your question literally can be answered if you read the post. Barkley has tortured us his entire four years and we’ve had to hear about him. This was symbolic in that we got him, and made him eat turf like he’s never eaten turf before.

          • Paul Hernandez

            “This was symbolic in that we got him, and made him eat turf like he’s never eaten turf before.”

            Congratulations, I’m right again. You answer nothing and continue to reveal your true character. Please keep posting more responses that only prove I am right or own up to the fact that at best the article is inappropriate for a fellow PAC 12 and So. Cal athlete. Your call.
            Paul

          • c2blum

            Hernandez obviously a small hammer looking for a smaller nail. Loser – acting like Mitt Romney waiting 2 more hours before conceding. Your 2 hours is up, take your lumps like a man, your slimy football program is floundering.

          • Paul Hernandez

            Typical. Once again, my point is made by your response.  UCLA must be proud.  Why send this to me over the email instead of posting it for all to see? Please feel free to forward this to Go Joe Bruin.  Based on the posts I have read, I’m sure it will be well received.
            Paul Hernandez

          • Army vet

            Hey Paul,
            Who do you think is the better athletic and academic institution? Then take your answer and ask yourself what everyone else would say about it. Go Bruins

          • Paul Hernandez

            SAT Scores

            Reading

            Math

            Writing

            25%

            75%

            25%

            75%

            25%

            75%

            Arizona

            480

            610

            490

            620

            -

            -

            Arizona State

            480

            600

            490

            620

            -

            -

            Berkeley

            600

            730

            630

            760

            610

            740

            Oregon

            492

            607

            499

            611

            -

            -

            Oregon State

            470

            600

            490

            620

            440

            560

            Stanford

            670

            770

            690

            780

            680

            780

            UCLA

            570

            680

            610

            740

            580

            710

            USC

            610

            720

            670

            770

            650

            740

            Washington

            520

            650

            580

            700

            540

            650

            Washington State

            470

            580

            480

            600

            460

            560

          • Army vet

            Congratulations on your high test scores. Let me know when you guys finally produce a Nobel Prize winner. BTW the answer is UCLA is the far more renowned and accomplished educational institution and the better athletic institution…and you guys are 40 years older.

    • Army vet

      Really? Your questioning UCLA’s athletic values as an SC fan. You must have gone to SC because you are not very smart, or you are very emotional right now. Sorry I don’t have a Kleenex, maybe get one from Matt Barney.

  • Army vet

    University of Spoiled Children. I don’t let my kids play with other kids whose parents went to SC, they might cheat or steal my kids lunch money.

  • Army vet

    One last thing. Barney is a football dweeb, if and when he doesn’t succeed in the NFL, I predict he will end up like Marinovich, another USC product. Hundley, a better NFLprospect by far, chose UCLA because it had one of the best medical schools in the nation. Yeah, Barney is quite a hero, hahaha!