The last time Sports Illustrated had something Pac-12 preview-related on their cover, it looked like this.
"MISFIRE. YOU ARE TARGETING YOUR OWN SHIPS. PREPARE TO ABANDON VESSEL."
So from the dysfunctional UCLA basketball program to the resurgent USC football program we go. Here comes Matt Barkley. I think this is the part we all fret about curses and jinxes and pestilence and the Book of Exodus.
It also comes with a cool Sports Illustrated feature with Lee Jenkins. Check it when you buy it!
The good news is that Andrew Luck had one of these covers last season and nothing really happened to him. Just another outstanding season from the Luck en route to a Heisman Trophy-caliber season and a BCS bowl. Nothing otherworldly, and perhaps a bit disappointing since it fell short of lofty expectations. But it was solid and excellent and it cemented his legacy as one of the greatest college quarterbacks in the history of the game.
Barkley isn't quite at Luck's level and might never well be. But he has a better team than Luck on paper and the firepower to work with to make the Trojans pretty heavily favored throughout the season. Can he find a way to carry the Trojans to victories the way Luck did though? That might be what's needed--another moment like Ohio State his freshman season--if he's expected to lead the Trojans to greatness.
For now though, he can enjoy what a lot of young athletes dream of late at night: Being on the front page of the most famous sporting publication out there.