Why Matt Barkley should stay at USC

At the outset of this year, we knew USC quarterback Matt Barkley was going to have a big decision to make come the end of the season. We knew he'd be staring at a potential high selection in next April's NFL draft and weighing that against the possibility of the Trojans making a nice run in 2012.

But we didn't know it was going to be like this, as the stakes involved in Barkley's decision to stay or go have been dramatically raised over the past month-plus.

Now, he has two good choices: (1) Go to the NFL and he's a guaranteed first-rounder, probable top-15 pick and possible top-5 selection, or (2) stay at USC and start the 2012 season in the top 5 nationally with a chance to break every remaining school career passing record.

So, will he stay, or will he go?

Lane Kiffin was doing one of the worst recruiting jobs in the history of college football after Saturday’s 50-0 USC win over UCLA.

He talked about what a lock quarterback Matt Barkley was to get drafted in the top 5 of the NFL draft this spring. He said 90 percent of the players in Barkley’s situation would leave early. Then, he paused for a minute and said there’s only one thing that could bring Barkley back: the chance to be a special Trojan.

Let that one sink in for a minute, Matt.

There really isn’t a financial argument for staying. It probably makes sense to start the millionaire meter when you’re as young as possible. And you can’t really appeal to his competitiveness. By the end of this season, nothing defensive coordinators could do to Barkley seemed to vex him much.

But doing special things for your alma mater is a powerful lure. It will be a powerful lure. Barkley looked like a little kid at a theme park late in Saturday’s game. He ran halfway onto the field and chest-bumped USC’s defense after it stuffed UCLA’s final chance at a score. He threw his arms in the air after completing a pass to his cousin, Robbie Boyer.

Barkley’s dad, Les, was a water polo player at USC. His twin siblings are freshmen at USC.

If he’s playing for some bad or mediocre NFL team next year, think he’s going to hear the word “special” very often?

Soon, Barkley will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. This is his last chance to live a dream.