Minnesota Golden Gophers: WR A.J. Barker Quits Team
The big news in college football Sunday night came from the surprising claim that Minnesota Gophers' wide receiver A.J. Barker quit the team.
Barker sent head coach Jerry Kill a 4,000+ word letter explaining why he no longer wishes to play on the team for the rest of the year and plans on transferring next year.
Barker laid out his priorities for quiting the team on twitter with a tweet that read: "Here are my priorities in the decision. 1) Told I wasn't going to play here anymore, and 2) wouldn't receive a scholarship next year."
Barker is the Gophers' leading receiver so far this year tallying 30 receptions for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. While most of the impact of this decision will be seen on the football field the rest of the season for the Gophers, most of the debate and focus has been on what really happened, and who is right.
After reading the full letter it seems apparent that if what Barker is claiming is true, then there was some form of mistreatment from the coaching staff towards Barker.
Early in the now public letter, Barker first declares he will no longer play football at the University of Minnesota in this manner: "In light of that pathetic, manipulative display of rage and love you put on this past Thursday, I have come to the decision, with the guidance of my parents and my closest friends, that my time on this team has come to an end."
The incident that Barker is referring to on Thursday in later described in the letter in this way: "It was during this discussion that you (Jerry Kill) came over and exploded on me in front of the entire team in our indoor facility. 'YOU DON’T F****** GET TO TELL THE TRAINER WHAT YOU DO!' followed by a 20 minute tirade where you attacked everything about me, from an athlete to my character as a person. I took every word of it replying faithfully 'Yes sir. Yes sir. No, sorry sir' and watched as you demeaned me to a point of no return."
It seems that if what Barker says happened is true that he was still respectful towards the coach despite his anger about the mistreatment of his ankle injury he suffered three weeks ago. I am also sure that if players on the team heard Coach Kill say all this, that in the following days or weeks it may be confirmed by a player that Kill exploded on Barker.
Barker also goes on later in his letter to say that coach Kill said multiple times that Barker will never get a scholarship (Barker is a walk-on) and that he doesn't deserve one. This seems to be what takes it over the top from motivation to just being downright disrespectful to tell your top receiver that he still is not good enough to earn a scholarship from you when the whole nation can watch Barker play and see he is a hard working and talented player.
Jerry Kill's official response was done as a 20 minute interview where he denies mistreating Barker's ankle injury and says "I can't tell you exactly my words during that time," when referring to the Thursday practice when Barker claims Coach Kill yelled at him.
While this has transpired into a mess that has people questioning who seems to be right and if coach Kill was simply trying to motivate Barker and not manipulate him as Barker says in his letter.
It seems that this issue will continue to be talked about for the rest of the season as more facts and personal accounts come out that hopefully will clarify what exactly happened that led to Barker's quiting the team.