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Matt Barkley returns to USC for senior season

USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley passes under pressure by Oregon Ducks linebacker Boseko Lokombo (25) during the first half of their NCAA football game in Los Angeles, California, October 30, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

USC quarterback Matt Barkley just announced at a 1 PM PST news conference that he will be returning to play for the Trojans in 2012 and will not enter the 2012 NFL Draft. Barkley felt that he was ready for the NFL but stated that he had “unfinished business” at USC. The USC marching band was on hand at the announcement so that took away some of the suspense leading up to his announcement.

This is great news for a top-flight program that has had to endure a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. But even with that USC finished with only two losses in 2011 under Lane Kiffin and destroyed UCLA 50-0 in its last game of the season, leading to the resignation of Rick Neuheisel and the hiring of Jim Mora.

Barkley posted some huge numbers this season and had NFL scouts drooling in what was shaping up to be an epic year for quarterbacks in the NFL Draft. He completed 308 of 446 passes for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns vs 7 interceptions and with a completion percentage of 69%. Barkley worked in a pro-style offense at USC which made him even more attractive to many scouts.

Without Barkley in the draft, Robert Griffin III will get even more buzz as the likely #2 quarterback taken after Andrew Luck. Many teams like the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns might be looking hard at a quarterback in the first round so it will be interesting to see how Griffin does at the combine and how tall he measures out at (he’s listed at 6′ 2″). There are other prospects as well like Landry Jones, but with Barkley there seemed to be real debate developing over whether teams would prefer him or Griffin after Luck.

Barkley enters to 2012 season at USC as one of the clear favorites for the Heisman Trophy, so this golden boy will be all the rage next year. USC has 17 starters coming back for next season so the Trojans will be in the mix for the Pac-12 championship. Also, Barkley can purchase up to $5 million in insurance under the NCAA’s Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability program.

College football needed some good news in an otherwise lame 2011 calendar year of bad news, so this is an early holiday gift for fans.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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2011 College Football Program Power Rankings

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor hands off the ball to tailback Dane Sanzenbacher in the third quarter at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans during the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl January 4, 2011. The Buckeyes won 31-26 UPI/Dave Fornell

Almost a year ago we decided to try to quantify the stature of college football programs so that we could rank them against one another. (Click here for the 2010 Rankings.) Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the total points are determined — 20 points for a national championship, 10 for a BCS title game loss, seven for a BCS bowl win, five for a BCS bowl loss, five for a BCS conference championship, three for a mid-major conference championship, two for a BCS conference runner-up and one for a major bowl appearance (i.e. a bowl that has a recent payout of more than $2 million, so for 2011 that would be Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, Insight, Holiday, Champs Sports and Alamo.) You’ll see the total points in parenthesis after the team’s name.

We put some thought into the point values for each accomplishment, paying special attention to how the point values are relative to one another. For example, we figured that one national championship would equate to four BCS conference championships, or three BCS bowl wins. We only looked at the last five years, as college football has increasingly become a fluid and fickle sport, and that’s about how far back a recruit will go when deciding amongst a list of schools.

Lastly, since a program is so dependent on the guy in charge, we added or subtracted points if the program saw an upgrade or downgrade at the head coach position in the last five years. A max of 10 points would be granted (or docked) based on the level of upgrade or downgrade. Again, we tried to quantify the hire relative to the program’s other accomplishments. For example, hiring Nick Saban is probably worth two BCS bowl appearances, or 10 points. (Sure, he might lead Alabama to more, but he also might bolt for another job in a year or two.)

So, without further ado, here are the rankings. Every year we’ll go through and update the numbers based on what the program did that year (while throwing out the oldest year of data), so don’t fret if your team isn’t quite where you want them right now. Everyone has a chance to move up.

1. Ohio State (58)

Previous Rank: #2 (+1)
Some college football fans will take issue with the Buckeyes being No. 1 because of their “soft schedule.” But this is a team that has dominated its conference five of the past six years and has finished no worse than second in each of the past six seasons. They’ve also appeared in two title games (though they lost both) and nine straight BCS bowl games, winning the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl in the past two years. They’ve got an interesting season coming up though. Five of their players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey will miss the first five games next year after being suspended. Can the Buckeyes stay unscathed until those players return?

2. Florida (51)

Previous Rank: #1 (-1)
If it weren’t for Urban Meyer leaving the program (and their lousy 2010 season), the Gators would probably still be ranked No. 1. They have three conference championships and two national championships in two years, but the lose of Meyer hurts big-time in these rankings. But don’t fret Florida fans, if Will Muschamp gets the program back on the right track then the Gators won’t be at No. 2 for long.

Read the rest of this entry »

Former High School Player of the Year winner Mustain arrested

Former PARADE High School Player of the Year winner Mitch Mustain was arrested on Tuesday for selling prescription drugs. Kind of ironic that this news broke on National Signing Day.

From Arkansas Sports 360:

Sportscaster Roger Lodge of KLAA-AM 830 in Los Angeles is reporting today that former University of Southern California quarterback Mitch Mustain was arrested by Los Angeles police Tuesday evening on charges of selling prescription drugs online.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website confirms that a white male named Mitchell Mustain fitting the quarterback’s physical description and having the same birthday was booked at 10:44 p.m. PST on Tuesday. Charges for the arrest are not listed on the site. Bail was set at $30,000. It is not known at this time if Mustain is still being held.

What a shame. Mustain was the starting quarterback for the West team in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was named the 2005-06 Gatorade National Player of the Year and the USA Today National Player of the Year, which was awarded to the first player ever from the state of Arkansas. He went 8-0 as a true freshman at the University of Arkansas in 2006, but he later transferred to USC because Casey Dick eventually replaced him as a starter.

But his situation didn’t improve at USC. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he had to sit out the 2007 season and then watched Mark Sanchez play in ’08. He competed with Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley for the starting job in ’09, but he lost out to Barkley. He even tried out at punter in order to contribute to the team in some way.

Now, with his football career likely over, he becomes the second former USC player to be arrested in the last two days. The good news is that he wasn’t tased like former Trojan and current Viking Everson Griffen was on Monday. Yiiiiikes.

Dillon Baxter doesn’t travel with USC to Oregon State

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Running back Dillon Baxter  of the USC Trojans carries the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. USC won 17-14. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

When USC hired Lane Kiffin, a lot of people thought it was spitting in the face of the NCAA as it decided what sanctions it would put on the program.

But maybe Kiffykins is getting it.

Stud freshman running back Dillon Baxter didn’t make the trip with the Trojans for today’s game against Oregon State because he took a golf cart ride from a student who was registered as an agent. This would be a small potatoes violation, and USC wouldn’t have any trouble getting around, or even through this. Baxter, apparently, didn’t know that the student was an agent, and a ride through campus on a golf cart seems like a silly thing to get in trouble for.

But USC’s not taking any chances, which is a good thing. Being on probation means that ignoring little things like that could cause bigger headaches for the Trojans. They’re already serving a two-year postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships. Getting ahead of the NCAA and asking for forgiveness before being punished was absolutely the right move for USC and Kiffin to make.

Oregon is USC’s title game, and other Week 9 college football picks

Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) conducts teh band after the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

With the prospect of a bowl game or a Pac-10 championship taken away from it before the season even began, USC’s football program has had to look elsewhere for motivation.

After a lackluster showing in early-season matchups against Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota, and a loss at home to Washington, many wondered if the Trojans really even cared. A last-second loss at Stanford and a blowout of California, however, has shown that not only do the Trojans care, but they’re still a pretty darn good football team.

There was attrition at the school this offseason when the NCAA instituted a two-year bowl ban and a reduction in scholarships, but it’s still USC. It’s still the same team that has been bringing in top five recruiting classes year after year, and putting more five stars on the bench than many teams have seeing the field.

So now nobody’s thinking of the Trojans, as they cannot be a part of the title discussion themselves. They can severely alter the landscape today, though, and I’d imagine they’ll be real excited to try and take advantage of that opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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