Barkley meeting 'as preliminary as possible'

USC quarterback Matt Barkley's Monday meeting with Trojans coach Lane Kiffin and athletic director Pat Haden is nothing more than a preliminary discussion of the quarterback's options, his father, Les Barkley, said.

Later Monday, Matt Barkley offered an assessment.

"Today my parents and I started the process of evaluating both sides of the decision whether or not to return to USC next year," Barkley said in a statement released by the school. "We met this afternoon with Coach Kiffin and Pat Haden. By no means did I come to any conclusions today. It was just the start of us gathering the facts. There is a long way to go in this process and no timetable. When I make my decision, I will let everyone know."

The Barkleys met with Kiffin and Haden for a short period of time before USC's annual awards banquet at 6 p.m. Before the meeting, Les Barkley called it as "as preliminary as possible" and said it was nothing more than the "first step in a long path" to reaching a decision.

Barkley, of course, is a draft-eligible junior who led the Trojans to a 10-2 record and top-five finish in the end-of-year Associated Press poll. In three years as USC's starting quarterback, he has thrown for more than 9,000 yards and 80 touchdowns. He'd be in line to break all of the school's all-time passing records if he were to return for his senior season in 2012.

The issue is that he's projected as a surefire top-ten and potential top-five pick in next April's draft, if he chooses to declare. A quarterback taken that high is liable to sign a giant contract worth multi-millions in guaranteed money.

In postseason interviews, Barkley has maintained that he is "50-50" on whether to stay or go. The deadline to declare is Jan. 15 and Jan. 18 to withdraw.