USC came into the Sun Bowl with a disappointing record—and without senior QB Matt Barkley. Barkley had missed the regular-season finale with a separated and sprained right shoulder, and was ruled out by the team's medical staff. The Trojans lost 21-7, and after the game, according to multiple reports, a group of freshmen challenged the seniors—and specifically Barkley—on their leadership and effort.
Nothing went well for USC that week. Two different Trojans caught shit for insulting the host city of El Paso. The team showed up 90 minutes late to the bowl dinner, causing Georgia Tech to storm off before they arrived. They played a truly terrible game of football.
After the game, something happened in the locker room. The Los Angeles Daily News uses the word "altercation." ESPN's source calls it a "flat-out brawl." It involved at least 10 players, and "started when some freshmen questioned the leadership of the team's seniors and whether they gave 100 percent effort for the Sun Bowl." ESPN adds that the trigger was one of the team's younger players "badmouthing Matt Barkley," and questioning the extent of his injury.
"When I came into the locker room ... it was just pure chaos in there," the [unnamed] player said. "... I think there was a lot of frustration. There were some things said by some guys on our team who are just hotheads."
Several other upperclassmen, including senior safety T.J. McDonald, came to Barkley's defense, the sources said. A security guard confirmed only that "tempers flared," but other sources told ESPN that "it was haymakers."
Barkley today denied that any punches had been thrown, insisting that "it was nothing to be alarmed about." An anonymous player told the Daily News, though, that "it was one of the worst things I've seen in a locker room."
Aren't things more fun when you're bowl-eligibile, Sombrero Lane Kiffin?