Near the end of a media availability session with a group of reporters on Sunday, USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley described how coach Lane Kiffin had abruptly canceled practice the previous day. Pretending to be fed up with the team, Kiffin sent them all to a pool near the practice field for the afternoon instead, followed by dinner from a local restaurant, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles.
"Kif just exploded and kicked us off the field out towards that gate over,” Barkley said, pointing toward the corner of the field. “Then the speakers started playing, and all the managers were over there with towels and shorts for us, and we were going swimming. It was fun.”
A reporter then asked Barkley about the team dinner from Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, a popular soul food restaurant in Los Angeles.
Barkley gently laughed, then adopted a deeper accent in his voice and said, "Roscoe's, which all my brothers were happy about. It was good."
He nodded, slipped back into his normal voice and answered a few more questions.
When asked later about the possible racial connotations of his comment, Barkley said through a school spokesman: "The way I've lived my life speaks for itself. However, if my comment offended anyone I apologize."
While at USC, Barkley has been active in mentoring programs in the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles and during the recent offseason he and his family spent time building soccer fields and teaching children at an orphanage in Nigeria.
"I didn't expect the Nigeria trip to come up at this time last year, and it was clear that it was a gift," he said back in the spring. “I'm just hoping something presents itself as clearly at the end of this season. Until then, I'm going to work as hard as I can and know that God is in control."
Earlier this spring, after drawing some critical responses for entering into a discussion on same-sex marriage legislation via Twitter, Barkley, a devout Christian, spoke with ESPNLA about being in the public eye:
"It's something that I don't regret posting," Barkley said. "But in the future I probably just won't do it again, just because I don't need that controversy."
On Sunday, Barkley was elected as one of USC’s captains for the second year in a row. The junior is regarded as a possible Heisman trophy candidate after passing for 5,526 yards and 41 touchdowns in his first two seasons at USC.