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Breath of fresh airPosted Friday, December 23, 2011, at 8:26 AM
As Colts fans watched the late portions of Thursday's game with the Texans, and had to be with mixed emotions.
On the one hand, these last two weeks have been about a team playing for pride and taking care of business. The two wins have to be a lot of fun for a fan base that had to wonder if the first win was ever coming.
On the flip side, though, the better these Colts look, the less and less likely it seems they'll get the first pick in the NFL draft. Indy may well be favored next week against the Jaguars.
A 3-13 season likely means the Colts will not win the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.
And that's with the knowledge that came yesterday afternoon that USC's Matt Barkley, considered Luck's equal by some experts, is returning to college next year. So he won't be there as a consolation prize for one of the 3- or 4-win teams.
I can only say, as a fan of sports in general, that Barkley's putting the NFL off for another year is refreshing. Here's a kid who could be making millions in endorsements alone months before April's draft, not to mention his rookie contract.
Instead, he's choosing to finish what he started, trying to help the Trojans win a national championship next season.
The current situation at USC is a bit different than normal, with NCAA sanctions keeping the Trojans out of the postseason for the last two years. Instead of Barkley coming back for unfinished business, we might say he's back for some unstarted business.
Barkley's only chance to play in a bowl game so far was as a freshman, so a real national title shot as an upper classman has to be a welcome prospect.
And far be it from me to go too far in supporting USC. I have actively hated the Trojans for a decade or more and was gleeful when I found out the program would have to pay for its cheating ways during the Reggie Bush era.
However, current kids like Barkley didn't do anything wrong, so the last two years have been a bit tough on them. I wish Barkley and any of his teammates who choose to stay well in making a good choice to return.
And then I'll spend next fall rooting hard against them.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.