Matt Barkley returned last season for his senior year instead of leaving for the NFL. The results were devastating.
Barkley didn't come close to winning an individual award. USC crashed and burned with a 7-6 record, and Barkley, a sure first-round pick, slipped to the fourth round of last year's NFL draft.
By also choosing to return for another season, have Georgia senior Aaron Murray and Clemson junior Tajh Boyd set themselves up for failure as well?
Sure, neither quarterback would have been a first-round pick had they left early, but both would have been drafted in a respectable round. Neither would have had a problem making an NFL roster.
Who made the wrong decision? The truth is both were smart to return to school. Either guy would have been a backup on an NFL team and would have likely spent at least a year or two before being given a chance to compete for a starting job. Both have clear talent and potential but need to work on a few things to solidify their draft stock.
While both should have another successful season, Murray is in the most danger of coming to regret his decision, and it has to do with the schedule. Georgia plays Clemson, South Carolina and LSU in three of its first four games. That doesn't include the annual rivalry against Florida, but the Bulldogs' fate will be decided in the first month of the season. It's either contender or bust, and with that schedule, things could get ugly early.
Besides Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina, Clemson has a cakewalk of a schedule. It also benefits from having its three most difficult games spread out over the course of the season. Georgia has a much tougher road, and it doesn't help with it beginning right out of the gate.
Georgia is going to be highly respected in preseason polls and is hoping to settle unfinished business after coming so close to topping Alabama last season. The expectations and optimism are through the roof in Athens. But with a brutal early schedule, there is a chance Georgia could start the season 1-3.
Talk about having nightmares.
There's no coming back from that. And as last season with USC showed, the frustration and disappointment can linger, resulting in even more losses. On the other hand, Clemson, playing a subpar ACC schedule, shouldn't have any more than three losses.
As if the schedule wasn't concerning enough, Murray hasn't exactly set the world on fire against top-tier opponents. Georgia is 4-10 against ranked teams since 2010. Murray began to show signs of turning that around against Alabama and nearly led the offense to an upset victory. It was a game that would have solidified his legacy, but it was all for naught as the Bulldogs fell five yards short as time expired.
On the other hand, Clemson hasn't been great in the clutch, either. It lost four of its final six games in 2011, including a 70-33 thrashing by West Virginia in the BCS Orange Bowl. Last season, Clemson lost to Florida State and South Carolina, two of its three ranked opponents.
However, that 25-24 victory over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was huge. Boyd completed 72 percent of his passes and threw for 346 yards and two touchdowns. He led Clemson to a victory over an elite SEC team. More importantly, it was a sign that Boyd is capable of winning the big game, something Murray hasn't done yet.
Murray is most likely to become the 2013 version of Barkley.