Matt Barkley doesn't have enough cash to buy his own No. 7 replica jersey in the campus bookstore, but he's the centerpiece of USC's renowned football program. He tools around campus on a beach cruiser bike, has dated his high school sweetheart since they were 16 (they've known each other since age 5) and he drinks a cold one about as often as Trojans fans send thank-you notes to the NCAA's committee on infractions. He's low maintenance.
"I'm perfectly content with my college life," says the guy who tore up his winning NFL lotto draft ticket to return to USC for his senior season. "I don't have to pay taxes."
Had Barkley left for the NFL -- and he was "100 percent" gone after throwing six touchdowns against UCLA in the regular-season finale -- he would have been a top-10 pick, maybe even as high as No. 2. Depending on the slotted rookie salary numbers, that means anywhere between a four-year, $12 million package ($7.2 million guaranteed) as the 10th pick and about $21 million ($13.7 million guaranteed) as the No. 2 selection.
But this isn't about money. If it were, Barkley would be an ex-Trojan right now. Instead, he's starting his first day of 2012 spring practice.
Click here for the rest of Gene Wojciechowski's column.