Barkley owes it to USC to stay


USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley will no doubt have plenty of people in his ear over the next several weeks until the deadline to declare for the 2012 NFL draft comes in early January.

Go for the money, they’ll say. Stay for the pride. Go to fulfill your dream of playing at the highest level. Stay to fulfill your dream of winning a Heisman.

He’s heard it all before, and he’s thought about it all too. Ultimately, only he can decide what is best for him and those close to him.

And if USC coach Lane Kiffin, Athletic Director Pat Haden, his teammates, his coaches, his friends and his fans are close to him, Barkley will realize that not only should he stay but that it’s his burden to come back for a fourth year.

The USC football program currently rests in a precarious position, and whether it falls onto the side of perennial championship contention or the side of middling success for the next few years probably largely depends on what is likely one of the most important decisions Barkley has ever made in his entire life.

Barkley owes it to the program to finish the job of restoring it to greatness for all USC has done to foster Barkley’s growth.

One might wonder why an unpaid athlete that generates millions of dollars for the university without appreciable financial return owes anything to that university. One might wonder why this same athlete would owe anything to a football program that was not allowed to play for a national championship (and, effectively, a Heisman trophy or even a Rose Bowl title).

But how often does a true freshman quarterback have the chance to start for a team ranked in the top-five in the preseason polls? How many quarterbacks have the kind of recruiting talent behind them to bring in two of the nation’s best receivers (sophomore Robert Woods and freshman Marqise Lee) in consecutive years sullied by sanctions — with another pair of receiver recruits from those two years (redshirt freshman Kyle Prater and freshman George Farmer) still awaiting playing time?

Barkley committed to a university that carries the prestige and credibility necessary to provide all of that for him. Barkley attends a university with enough national recognition stowed away from its decade of immense success that it could get him the face time he needed to become the prospect he is today.

Simply put, USC has enabled Barkley’s development in a way that almost no other program could hope to. Barkley realized his uniquely favorable position when he heard about the sanctions, and that’s why he decided to stay. That’s why he made an investment to a hopeless program.

He saw what he could do for himself and the team. He saw the long-term hope for his career, and he saw the long-term hope for the program.

When he envisioned that hope for the team about a year-and-a-half ago, you can bet he saw himself as a part of it. The distractions that have arisen since then would be hard to ignore for anyone, much less a wide-eyed 20-year-old on the brink of emerging to the elite level.

No one could blame Barkley for succumbing to those distractions. Some might sigh, pout or even have some choice words for Barkley if they ever ran into him, but if they’d think about putting themselves in his position, they’d be able to relate.

Kiffin acted quickly in his press conference after the season finale against UCLA to curb expectations for Barkley’s return, suggesting it would take the resolve and will of a “special Trojan” for Barkley to return for his senior season.

It’s not likely Kiffin is as pessimistic about the situation in private, and he probably hasn’t made his final stand in attempting to persuade Barkley himself.

But let’s assume Kiffin is right. Let’s assume Barkley would have to go above and beyond and do something special for the football program.

If Barkley realized just how unique his situation at USC has been … If he took note of each and every decision USC made over the last three seasons to make things great for him … If he understood just how talented he already is, he’d be back at practice in the spring. And it would probably be difficult to grasp why it was even a hard decision to make in the first place.

The burden is on Barkley to make sure everything USC has done for him doesn’t go unanswered. And all it takes is a year.

 

“Suicide Blitz” ran Thursdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Danny at savitzky@usc.edu.


37 replies
  1. richard fawell
    richard fawell says:

    TO THE POWERS THAT BE: PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT MATT READS BOTH OF MY COMMENTS. MATT: I CAN GUARANTEE YOU THAT IF YOU CHOOSE TO GO TO THE NFL THIS YEAR YOU WILL REGRET IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHY? BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE THIS MOMENT IN HISTORY BACK AGAIN; THAT MOMENT IS BEING SERVED UP TO YOU ON A GOLDEN PLATTER FOR YOUR TAKING. USC IS NOW NUMBER FIVE IN THE COUNTRY WHICH PLACES YOU ON A PATH TO A LIKELY NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, A HEISMAN TROPHY FOR YOU AND THE GREAT MEMORIES YOU WILL HAVE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WE MUST NOT FORGET RECEIVING A DEGREE FROM AN EXCELLENT UNIVERSITY WHICH I KNOW IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, AS IT SHOULD BE! I KNOW THAT THESE THOUGHTS ARE RINGING TRUE TO YOUR HEART MATT. I AM CONFIDENT THAT YOU WILL BECOME THE GREATEST TROJAN OF ALL TIME IF YOU STAY THIS LAST YEAR!

  2. Joe Stapley
    Joe Stapley says:

    i hope Matt doesn’t read this article. did you think that those players came to usc maybe because they would have matt throwing to them? did matt participate in recruiting those players? I am a trojan through and through, but what the….?

  3. senior
    senior says:

    You are a dumbass. Matt stuck with USC when everybody else would have left to better situations. He owes nothing to this university, and you, should stop writing and find a new major at sc.

  4. Chris
    Chris says:

    REDICULOUS! LUDICROUS! and just plain selfish on the part of this author/writer and IF this is the true feelings of USC. Articles like this are the very reason I am no longer a Trojan fan even though I grew up with them and my whole family bleeds maroon and gold! Barkley, whatever you decide, GODSPEED!

  5. PeterC.
    PeterC. says:

    This article is offensive and dangerous. To think that someone took the time to write this is offensive to all people that are productive in their day to day ventures as you sir wasted a whole bunch of time writing this article. Good luck trying to become the next Skip Bayless. Mr. Barkley does not need advice from you.

  6. Sunny39
    Sunny39 says:

    I love me some Matt Barkley. I think the world of the kid. I’m proud of his accomplishments in the classroom and on the field.

    Dude’s on pace to get his degree BEFORE fall semester (i.e., he doesn’t need to stay for his senior year to get his degree). He’s been a fantastic ambassador for the AD and — when sanctions were imposed — the university. He’s a true Trojan and I support him regardless of whatever he decides.

    Matt doesn’t owe SC anything. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship. To that end, IMO the article’s premise is in poor taste.

    Fight On Matthew!

  7. Seriously?!?
    Seriously?!? says:

    Get a clue! USC gave Barkley a first-rate education, he gave them 3 great years. He has a chance to start in the NFL next season, and make more money than most people see in their lifetimes. One helmet to the knee could ruin all that. One sack by a 300lb d-lineman could end his career forever. He’s gone, like LaMichael James at Oregon and many other top junior prospects. Get over it and move on.

  8. Doug
    Doug says:

    This may be the single dumbest article I’ve read all year, regardless of subject. If I was Matt Barkley this type of attitude would make me leave and not think twice about it.

  9. Tim
    Tim says:

    Barkley stuck around when the NCAA said no bowl, reduced scholarships, and players could transfer without the 1 year penalty. It would be awesome if he stayed one more year but he owes us nothing. We are indebted to him.

  10. PS
    PS says:

    I am sorry, but Matt doens’t owe anything to ‘SC. Quite the opposite, the school should thank him for being such a class act! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have him back next year! In fact, as a Cardinal and Gold, I am praying and hoping that he comes back. He is a fantastic young man! He did a fine job as the “face” of the program. The only argument (which I think is important) would be to come back to finish his degree. I just think that the degree is so important! But I do know that, perhaps, it doesn’t compare to the millions waiting for him. But at the end of the day, money does come and go!

  11. Steve Rizzo
    Steve Rizzo says:

    After the character, leadership, and talent Barkley displayed over the past three years he doesn’t owe anyone anything. He became the face of the program during one of the most critical periods of it’s history. He became the glue that not only held this team together but also built a foundation of TEAM that will take it into it’s future. My first SC game was in1969 and the teamwork and unselfishness of this team has made it my most favorite. Thanks Matt for being an amazing example at such a young age. I’d love it if you came back but also know you have to go after what’s in your heart, whatever that may be.

  12. Marc
    Marc says:

    I disagree with the premise of this article, but Matt–if you’re reading–stay for the fun of it! Life doesn’t get any better then what you’re experiencing.

  13. richard fawell
    richard fawell says:

    Matt you have exhibited tremendous strength of character by showing your loyalty to the Trojan family in difficult times. The best analogy is one of climbing a dificult mountain of which you have still not reached the summit. The summit is less than a few hundred meters away– meaning a possible National Championship, the Heisman Trophy, providing much needed ongoing strength for the football program at USC and a degree from a prestigious university. Your decision to stay places spiritual values above material ones and will always be held in the highest eteem by all. Fight on for old SC.

  14. Arman
    Arman says:

    Once we start telling him that he has to stay, he’s not going to stay. Just take it easy…

    He owes USC nothing.

    Lucky for us, at this point, it seems like he’s going to stay.

  15. Jfarbs
    Jfarbs says:

    “Precarious position?” Hardly. How many starters are returning? “Hopeless program?” That’s a laugh. SC perennially has top-recruiting classes. Let’s see how much loyalty Danny Savitzky shows to the Daily Trojan when the Daily Breeze comes calling with a contract offer. So just because the DT gave him a column and a chance to perfect his hyperbole (which he obviously hasn’t done yet), he should reject a professional offer? College prepares one for a career. Only Barkley can decide when it’s the right time to move on.

  16. Trojan Fan
    Trojan Fan says:

    Like most of the other comments, I disagree with this article. Matt has given more than he has received and no matter what he decides we should all be happy for him. Of course, we want him to return and take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will create memories to last his entire life (and ours). I think it is unfortunately that so many people are bugging him about staying. It is his decision alone and he knows how USC fans feel about him.

  17. Sara
    Sara says:

    Barkley owes nothing to USC, but USC owes Barkley. He had every opportunity to go to a different university but he stayed because he wanted to be a Trojan, a dream he had as a child.

    As a USC fan, I would love for him to stay but it is misguided to claim he has a debt to pay. Also, you make many claims about what he thinks, thought or felt without backing any of it up. It’s poor journalism.

  18. Trojan Fan
    Trojan Fan says:

    I disagree with you on two counts – Barkley doesn’t owe USC anything. He has been fantastic these past few years when he could have easily been average and blamed everything on the sanctions. He made himself a better quarterback so USC could have success.

    That being said, whether or not Barkley stays, I seriously doubt USC will be limited to “middling success.” Obviously, nobody’s seen much of our backup quarterbacks, but they are all supposed to be good. Woods and Lee are dynamic enough players to make catches that might not be completely on target. The defense is rapidly improving.

    Will we experience growing pains next year if Barkley leaves? Sure. But I have no doubt that the team can play at a high level.

  19. Josh
    Josh says:

    I disagree; Barkley doesn’t owe USC anything. If anything, we owe him. We owe him our support and encouragement no matter what he decides. Barkley stuck with USC through sanctions, through coaching changes, and through what could have been the darkest time in USC football history. But Barkley has lead his team and his team-mates from the edge of disaster to a top 10 finish. This is not meant to minimize the job that everyone else has done, especially Kiffin, but Barkley has played what is probably the most important role of all.

    Barkley, we support you no matter what!

  20. hope4agape
    hope4agape says:

    As a huge fan of the Trojans, I have to disagree with you . Barkley does not owe USC anything, he has brought us back from mediocrity to top ten. Along the way his leadership allowed the younger players to thrive, show me one other QB that could have produced two freshman phenoms at wide reciever .

    I think his greatest attribute to the trojans is his humble nature and being a christian that has a positive influence on every one around him.
    If he does come back and play like he did in the final games… He will cement his legacy as the greatest QB in Trojan history.
    But he will also earn a degree and I think he would really really enjoy that final year . Those are much better reasons for him to come back for a final year.

  21. dontgo!!
    dontgo!! says:

    Great article. What Barkley needs to consider too is that once he gets to the NFL he can be traded, dropped, and abused. NFL players are commodities, NCAA players are family. The one year he’d spend gunning for a national title would most likely be the best year of his life. The money will come. REGARDLESS of what he does next season he will be drafted high. The money will be there. This opportunity of a senior year is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Please stay and cement yourself as USC’s greatest quarterback, Heisman winner, and number 1 overall draft pick. It’s what you deserve and it’s what USC deserves.

    • Doug
      Doug says:

      “Traded, dropped, and abused”? Really? He’ll be a franchise QB for the next 10 years for somebody. There’s no guarantee he’ll win a Heisman next year, no way. What if he comes back next season and suffers a career ending injury? There goes that money that “will come”. He doesn’t owe USC anything and has proven all he needs to in college.

  22. Get Real
    Get Real says:

    Big football programs like USC are the unofficial training camps for the NFL. If the analysts strongly believe he will be a first round draft pick, he should go for it while he is still healthy. That is why he chose USC, right? Nonsense about completing a degree is for college students, not professional athletes in training. Barkley has already made up his mind to leave, so get over it.

  23. First Round
    First Round says:

    Go while your stock is up. IPOs are putative for being overpriced, and thereafter, reality, disillusionement settles in, and the price spirals downward. First year quarterbacks don’t do so hot with the exception of Cam Newton. The NFL is cutthroat, and the average NFL player’s career is no more than 4 years. Imagine the millions of $ you’re passing up if you opt to stay your senior year. Sure, the college experience is invaluable, but millions of $ in the NFL is worth far more…
    “financially” as Barkley put it on ESPN last night.

  24. bellaruby
    bellaruby says:

    Very well written article…I hope Matt stays to finish out his 4 years at USC then he can tell his children that he graduated from USC and spent 4 great years playing football for the Trojans! Don’t let the money sway your decision..remember your Trojan pride and graduate with your class of 2013.

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  1. […] through sanctions, through coaching changes, and through what could have been the darkest time in Usc Football History. But Barkley has lead his team and his team-mates from the edge of disaster to a top 10 finish. […]

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