USC football coach Lane Kiffin denied multiple reports of a locker room brawl following USC’s 21-7 loss against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
“Contrary to media reports, there was not a brawl or altercation in our locker room after the Sun Bowl,” Kiffin said in a statement released by the university Wednesday. “There was a noisy verbal exchange among a couple players who were frustrated with the outcome of the game. It lasted less than a minute and was nothing physical. It happens sometimes in football locker rooms after a disappointing loss.”
The Los Angeles Daily News reported Wednesday that a fight involving upward of 15 football players broke out after a number of freshmen on the team questioned whether or not the seniors were giving full effort in their final collegiate game. Quarterback Matt Barkley, safety T.J. McDonald and center Khaled Holmes were among the outgoing players. Junior cornerback Nickell Robey later announced his intentions to declare for the draft as well.
ESPN later expanded on the original story by the Daily News, adding that “multiple sources told ESPN that a ‘flat-out brawl’ transpired when one of the team’s younger players began ‘bad-mouthing’ Matt Barkley.”
Barkley also denied the accusations that anything physical took place, telling ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd that “tempers flared … guys were expressing their opinions, for better or worse, but we had it under control. It was nothing to be alarmed about.”
The Trojans completed a disappointing 2012-13 campaign with a 7-6 record after falling to Georgia Tech on Dec. 31. They entered the regular season as the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press top 25 poll but dropped five of their last six contests after starting 6-1. USC lost starting quarterback Barkley to a right shoulder injury in the closing minutes of a 38-28 defeat against the UCLA Bruins, and he wasn’t able to return in time for the team’s bowl game in El Paso, Texas.