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.

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Tempers flare as USC defeats UCLA 28-7


His team on defense and trailing 21-7 with 44 seconds remaining, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel called for a time out. Back on the field, USC quarterback Matt Barkley took the snap and connected with receiver Damian Williams for a 48-yard touchdown. The Bruins looked completely dumbfounded on the play, leaving Williams with plenty of room to make an easy grab. Of course, Neuheisel and his team didn’t seem too pleased.

The Trojans (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10) followed Williams’ dramatic score by jumping and yelling on their sideline before moving onto the field in unison. They appeared to be taunting the Bruins (6-6, 3-6), who then came across midfield to challenge them before coaches and officials kept them apart.

After the game, Neuheisel and USC coach Pete Carroll exchanged possibly the shortest handshake in the history of college football. The announcers on the Fox Sports telecast were trying to blow up the situation and I hope people don’t buy into it. Both coaches live to compete and this type of stuff is expected.

The bottom line is that Neuheisel called a meaningless timeout when his team was obviously beaten. Sensing Neuheisel intended to keep this game going, Pete Carroll went for a final score. I have no clue why the Bruins neglected to play defense on Williams’ touchdown. If Neuheisel did indeed call the timeout to discuss a defensive strategy, then his team failed to listen. On the other hand, if he just wanted to irritate the Coliseum (which is how it looked), then Carroll had every right to order a deep pass.

UCLA opens the Rick Neuheisel era with a big win over Tennessee

The Rick Neuheisel era is off to a dramatic start with a 27-24 victory in OT over 18th-ranked Tennessee. Quarterback Kevin Craft rebounded from four first half interceptions to lead a comeback in the second half.

Craft has a nice arm and he showed some character with his performance tonight. If he keeps improving, UCLA can do some serious damage in the Pac-10. USC fans have to be a little nervous. Their days of being the only show in town might be coming to an end.

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