Did USC's Matt Barkley Blow It by Coming Back for His Senior Season?

Brian KinelCorrespondent IIIDecember 31, 2012

Matt Barkley
Matt BarkleyJeff Gross/Getty Images

At the end of my junior year in college, I was faced with deciding whether to come back to the dorm or move to an apartment.  Hmmm, food plan and free utilities or not?

USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s decision after his junior year had a whole lot more dollars attached to it.

It’s easy to sit here today and compare Barkley to this year’s rookie quarterbacks in the NFL and say that he’s not in their class. But back in April, Barkley was in the group of quarterbacks right behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Today? Not so much.

After being considered a top-10 pick in 2012, Barkley is projected to be a late first-round pick in 2013. So was it a bad decision for him to return to USC for his senior season?


It’s wrong to look at the change in his draft position and thus his contract as the determining factor in whether or not the decision to return was a good one or not.  There’s a lot more to it than that.

In the early 1980s, 7’4” Ralph Sampson spurned the NBA year after year because he liked being in college. He won three Player of the Year awards in college. He wasn’t ready for the life of the NBA.

I know that football is much more violent than basketball and players risk career-ending injuries.  But these decisions are theirs to make for their own reasons.

Matt Barkley is a southern California kid who grew up wanting to be the USC quarterback. And he accomplished that. His junior season saw the Trojans unable to play in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions. Many thought USC was the best team in the country at that point.

Barkley felt he had unfinished business in Troy and a real chance to win a BCS Championship if he returned for his senior year. He was right. The Trojans were ranked No. 1 early in the season.

Many will say that he came back because the 2013 quarterback class isn’t nearly as strong as the 2012 one. That wasn’t as apparent a year ago. And I do think that Barkley came back because he wanted to win a college championship and maybe a Heisman. Nothing wrong with that.

No, it didn’t work out so well for Matt. No Heisman and no championship. Who would have thought that the undefeated team playing for a spot in the BCS Championship game would be Notre Dame when USC hosted the Irish? No one.

So Barkley’s draft position has plummeted. What does that mean for his chances for success in the NFL?

It’s so hard to think a USC quarterback will do well at the next level. The list of disappointments from that fraternity is long. Leinart, Booty, Sanchez, Cassel and Palmer lately.

From what I’ve read and seen, I like Matt Barkley. But I struggle to think he will be an NFL star. I’m not even sure he will be a decent starting quarterback.

But that doesn’t mean he made a bad decision to come back for his senior year. It’s his decision, and I doubt he would change it today.


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