Minnesota’s best WR AJ Barker left the team suddenly and unexpected last November. Barker, a St. Paul native who went to high school at De La Salle, led the Gophers this year with 30 catches, 577 yards and seven TDs before spraining his ankle. After a disagreement with head coach Jerry Kill, Barker left the Gophers and accused coach Kill of abusive behavior. There was not much more explanation as to why he left. A few weeks later, he accepted a scholarship with the University of Houston. He was set to begin classes at UH next Monday.
However, last Sunday night (January 13th) Barker was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. He is free on $500 bond and is set to appear in court February 14th. Not the best way to spend Valentine’s Day.
This won’t be the first, nor will it be the last, college student arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Many in the Minnesota media will try to conclude that this incident shows that Barker was probably a head case and couldn’t handle big time college football. We find this conclusion sophomoric and simplistic. A misdemeanor charge for a college kid is not conclusive that he couldn’t handle the heat at Minnesota.
After quitting the team, Barker accused Kill of abusive behavior and of insulting his family background. Kill has denied the accusations, but little else has been said. Barker’s comments in his public letter were very specific and poignant. A little too specific to not have some shred of truth to them. But little comment has been made.
We would love to hear more of what happened here, but we realize we never will. We hope media members don’t simply conclude this marijuana incident shows that Barker wasn’t cutout for football at the U of M. It doesn’t. If there was any indication of inability to play at Minnesota, which we don’t believe there has been yet, it would be the fact that Barker wrote a public letter on his blog rather than delivering it privately to Coach Kill. If anything is sophomoric, that is.