The day after USC's November loss to UCLA, Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley made his way to Coach Lane Kiffin's office and sat down on the couch.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Barkley had been flat on his back on the rain-slicked Rose Bowl turf, a crunching hit from a Bruins linebacker injuring his right shoulder and forcing him to leave the stadium with his arm in a sling.
Now, with the senior's season and USC career possibly over, a somber Kiffin tried to console the player who passed up the chance to earn NFL millions and came back for a final campaign with the Trojans.
But it was Barkley who provided perspective.
"Remember Coach," Kiffin recalled Barkley saying, "this is a sport. This doesn't define who I am."
If there truly is some emotional pain there, Barkley is keeping it well hidden. And he's certainly not talking about it.
Barkley has not practiced for the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech, has not addressed the local media in weeks and has declined requests for one-on-one interviews.
"He doesn't want to be the focus right now," an athletic department spokesman said.