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Matt Barkley Provides The Pac-12 With A Perfect Christmas Present

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The Pac-12 is probably losing stars left and right next year. Andrew Luck has his foot out the door. LaMichael James will likely join him. Several prominent offensive linemen and defenders are headed out. Many marquee names are departing, which could make it tough for the conference to have as much name visibility that it enjoyed the past two seasons.

Matt Barkley will make sure that the conference remains in the national picture.

Barkley's return ensures the Pac-12 will be in a strong position to have another national championship contender in 2012. The USC Trojans were already assured of being a Rose Bowl contender with the talent they brought back. With Barkley in the mix, they can now catapult their expectations upward. Based on the way they finished this season, the Men of Troy can be a great college football team next season, particularly on the offensive side of the football.

With the cards aligning the right way for the Trojans, the Pac-12 is looking pretty good too.

Larry Scott took over the conference and has already accomplished so much. He has raised the standard of the Pac-12 and enjoyed four BCS berths with non-USC teams. He kicked off conference expansion and started a domino effect that has resonated through the Pac-12. That was able to make so much progress for the conference with their most prominent team imprisoned by sanctions makes his success even more remarkable.

Now, with the new Pac-12 TV deal in place, all the cards have aligned for a monster year of football in 2012. There are some solid hires in Arizona and Washington State that have excited two depressed fanbases. Oregon is gunning for a fourth straight Pac-12 championship, UCLA could be poised for a rebirth, and Cal and Washington still hover as potential sleepers. And to top it all off, Barkley returning to lead USC back on a national championship cruise. Could you ask much more?

It's going to be one Merry Christmas for USC and the Pac-12. Happy times are on the horizon.