One of the biggest cliches in sports is that it’s not about the money, except when it is. Well in the case of USC quarterback Matt Barkley, it really isn’t about the money. In a press conference held just minutes ago, Barkley announced that he will return to college for his senior season.
The decision could not have been an easy one for Barkley, who’s stellar junior season made him a probable top five pick in the 2012 NFL draft, certainly the second quarterback taken behind consensus number one Andrew Luck of Stanford, who announced a couple of weeks ago that he would forego his senior season. Although NFL millions surely await Barkley in 2013, there are a lot of logical reasons why the QB likely decided to return, and actually makes a lot of sense for football reasons.
USC will be coming off of it’s two year probation next year, and head coach Lane Kiffin’s ability to lead this young group to a 10-2 record and top ten standing in the AP poll, means this team will return to the limelight next year as a likely BCS Championship game contender with Barkley at the helm. For a guy that hasn’t played in a bowl game in two years, that’s mighty appealing. Barkley will also be the likely consensus #1 pick in 2013 which, given the NFL new rookie salary scale implemented as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, will likely earn him more money than he would have gotten next year.
From a non-football perspective, Barkley is a California native who is reportedly very close to his family – he has a sister that is a current freshman at USC – and loves college life. USC is just as popular in Los Angeles as many pro teams, and I can understand the kid not being in a rush to join a team like Cleveland, especially since the chance to join his former coach, Pete Carroll, is all but shot thanks to Seattle’s late season resurgence.