"I know in my heart I have not yet finished my journey as a Trojan football player. Our USC football team has been through some tough times and we have persevered. But the 2012 team has some serious unfinished business to attend to, and I intend to play a part in it."
When USC QB Matt Barkley said the above statement, that he is returning to USC to finish "some serious unfinished business", the statement thundered around not only Heritage Hall or the whole city of Los Angeles, but in all of the college football world as the Trojans will return back to their 2002-2008 form of being an elite level University.
The Heisman Pundit, Chris Huston, said via Twitter that Barkley's statement that he's returning for his senior season at USC "made him the 2012 Heisman Trophy front runner".
Yes, kudos to athletic director Pat Haden and sports information director Tim Tessalone to bring USC back to front page news on sports newspapers and the top story on Sportscenter as the Barkley press conference solidified USC back to national prominence.
That means USC will have some serious primetime TV action on ESPN, ABC and probably be the team showcased around the nation as the Trojans have already been labeled "contenders" for the 2012 national title.
And that bodes well for USC recruiting. The 2012 class can join a team that will be "special". One of the top atheletes in the nation, Nelson Agholor from Florida, whom is being recruited by USC tweeted yesterday "Okay, I'll say it... I hope Matt Barkley returns." You bet a high schooler would want to join a team out of sanctions with all the momentum in the world of winning football games.
Another recruiting sales pitch? The 2013 draft.
These are some of the names that will likely enter the 2013 draft:
The first three players have a decent to great chance of being drafted in the first round. Assuming USC OT Matt Kalil gets drafted in the first round (projected) and Nick Perry in the second round (projected), USC will have five players drafted between two 2012 and the 2013 drafted in the first two rounds.
Though the scholarship deductions haven't hit USC hard as of yet, Barkley's return certainly help fend that off for a couple of more years solely because of the projected year USC will have 2012.
USC is returning 18 starters with the same back seven in the defense that dramatically improved as the year went on in 2011. The team with the biggest threat to upset USC's title hopes is the same team USC upset theirs, Oregon.
Oregon will be battling USC at the Coliseum next year, where the Trojans won every game except the triple overtime loss to Stanford. Both teams look to start in the top five next season in the polls and the sure-favorite to win their respective division, but Oregon will be (most likely) losing their most impact player while USC's biggest impact player returns. My hunch is that both teams will see each other in the Pac-12 Championship game and whomever wins the the Pac-12 title will ultimately be in the National title game against an SEC opponent.
And how freakin' cool it'll be watching Barkley hold that national title trophy as he ends the SEC multiple year title run.