A.J. Barker not only left the bowl eligible University of Minnesota Gophers a week before their season finale, he threw a hissy fit for the ages in doing so, lashing out at alleged mistreatment by head coach Jerry Kill and claiming he just wasn’t valued enough by the program to be able to keep playing for them and retain any sort of dignity.
The ankle injury and alleged mistreatment seems to be the MacGuffin here. In Alfred Hitchcock films, the MacGuffin is a plot device that is just there to move the story forward, and the real story happens around that. The MacGuffin in A.J. Barker’s saga is that Jerry Kill mistreated him and forced him do activities he maybe shouldn’t have been doing while injured.
However, the main plot here it seems, is that Jerry Kill wasn’t going to pander to Barker’s apparent need to be overtly recognized for being he leading receiver on a not very good offense. When Kill wouldn’t acknowledge that Barker was one of the best receivers in all of college football (ya know, because he’s not), Barker went on a hate-laced tirade about how he was done playing for the school.
He even wrote a blog post entitled: “My Letter to Jerry Kill” where he states Coach Kill claiming recievers like Barker are “a dime a dozen” put him over the top in his decision to leave Minnesota.
There’s nothing special about me?
I’m a dime a dozen?
You don’t know what “f–ked up things happened to me to screw me up so much as a person”?
My stock fell as a person since I got injured?
You had 5 of me at Northern Illinois?
- A.J. Barker’s letter to Jerry Kill
Is anyone creeped out a bit that this sounds oddly like a love poem I write to a girl in the ninth grade? Barker is a non-scholarship player (something he notes in his letter before asking Kill if he loves him…no seriously he does), so he’s free to transfer and play his final season elsewhere. The University released a statement late last night on the situation.
“Coach Kill received an email from A.J. Barker today notifying the Coach that he has quit the team. Coach Kill tried reaching out to A.J. after receiving the email, but was unable to connect with him. We understand A.J.’s frustration with his injury, and we regret that he has chosen to leave the team on these terms. Our concern first and foremost is student athletes and we wish A.J. well.”
Barker will be missed by the Gophers, as he’s far and away their best receiver this year. That being said, Barker’s final stat line with the Gophers is 30 catches for 577 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Someone make room on the Heisman ballot.