Haden: Late on 'Barkley 4 Heisman'

LOS ANGELES -- USC athletic director Pat Haden said Wednesday that he regrets not starting a school-supported campaign for quarterback Matt Barkley's Heisman candidacy sooner.

Barkley, now considered a potential Heisman finalist in next month's vote, didn't have any sort of formal video or press packet until this week -- unlike many of the other top candidates, like Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Stanford's Andrew Luck.

"There's buzz now, but he's been playing great for a good month," Haden told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "He's been playing sensationally and he's clearly done his part, so I wish I would have initiated it earlier, thought about pushing it earlier.

"But it is what it is, and he's getting some good traction and he's certainly worthy of consideration. It's up to him to play great Saturday night."

Haden said there wasn't much of a thought to create some buzz after Barkley led USC to an upset win on the road at Notre Dame last month, as some fans clamored for. But after the win over Oregon last weekend, Haden met with USC coach Lane Kiffin and the school's head sports information director to discuss starting up a campaign.

Haden said it was Kiffin's idea to have the meeting. Then, Monday, a minute-long video championing the signal-caller as a candidate was ready, and the school posted it on YouTube and sent it out to media members nationwide that morning.

"Generally, we try to let guys win it on the field, but we probably should have done something more for him," Haden said. "We just owe it to him as a kid, too.

"We're hopeful Matt's going to have a great shot."

Barkley, a junior who is considered a likely top pick in the 2012 NFL draft if he chooses to declare early, has thrown for 3,105 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season with a 67.6 completion percentage. He'd be in position to break all of USC's career passing records if he came back for his senior season.

Haden added Wednesday that the campaign would be a "little different" if the Trojans knew Barkley was returning in 2012.