For Barkley, an added perk to staying

January, 26, 2012
1/26/12
5:11
PM PT
USC quarterback Matt Barkley weighed a lot of factors before making his decision whether to declare for the 2012 NFL draft.

He contacted former Trojans who faced similar decisions, researched where he would likely be selected and assessed how good his college team could be if he stayed. He thought about what he had left to personally prove at this level and thought back to the first three years of his career and the business he hadn't finished.

But he revealed this week that he did forget one minor factor that might have helped make the decision to come back just a bit easier: the new athletic facility currently being built on campus at USC that will be ready for Barkley to use during his senior season.

USC's $70 million John McKay Center, complete with tons of football-specific additions, is on track to be ready in the middle of the summer. Barkley called that an "added bonus" as compared to the outdated Heritage Hall facility he has used in his first three-plus seasons at USC.

"It wasn’t a reason to come back, but I did think of it the night (I made my decision)," Barkley said this week. "I was like, 'Oh, there’s a new facility coming back. Sweet.' "

Of course, Barkley knows what effects the facility will have more than perhaps any other student-athlete at the school. He's been sitting in meetings with builders since before ground was even broken last January, as they consulted him to get perspective on what all the athletes wanted.

“I didn’t know what I was doing (the next year) all season, but I was still a part of all the meetings and things for that because I knew it was a special place," Barkley said. "I knew if I were to come back I wanted to have my touch on it. Right from the beginning, from the hiring of the graphic design crew, I was in the meetings, trying to learn the business side of it."

Coach Lane Kiffin memorably said last year that the new facility would eliminate USC's only remaining weakness in recruiting. Competing schools have constantly used Heritage Hall against the Trojans when comparing it to their own modern spaces.

Any new athletes coming in in the Class of 2012 and beyond will presumably be able to use the new McKay Center throughout their college careers.

"That’s gonna be big for recruiting for kids to see that rather than our dumpy old place right now," Barkley said. "It's an incredible facility. ... Hopefully we don’t get too spoiled."

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