Earlier today USC's Heisman-winning quarterback Matt Leinart announced he will return to USC for his final year of eligibility in search of an unprecedented third straight college football national title. As a big USC football fan, the only words that truly come to mind are hell yeah!
Think about this:
With Leinart's return, the offense will remain intact. This was an offense that, behind Leinart, had 34 passing touchdowns (33 thrown by Leinart) and 27 rushing touchdowns. The only senior on the offensive side of the ball is tight end Alex Holmes, and Dominique Byrd has proved he's ready to fill that spot (if you don't believe me, go back and look at the highlight reel from the Orange Bowl where he made a diving one-handed catch to put the first of many points on the board for USC).
Let's take a look those who will be returning on the offensive side of the ball along with some of the numbers they put up this season:
QB - Matt Leinart, Heisman trophy, 71 career TD passes
RB/TB - Reggie Bush/Len Dale White, 2011 yards and 21 rushing TD's combined
WR - Dwayne Jarrett, 55 rec 849 yards 13 TDs
WR - Steve Smith, 42 rec 660 6 TDs
TE - Dominique Byrd, 37 rec 384 yards 3 TDs
OL - Sam Baker, John Drake, Ryan Kalil, Fred Matua and Taitusi Lutui are all returning to not only protect their Heisman-winning QB but also to create monster gaps for Bush and White.
What part of this offense would you say is the weakness? Maybe it's the fact that they aren't on the field in the fourth quarter. Although by that time, USC is usually up by at least 30.
While on the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans are losing some great players, the defense will be - at worst - serviceable. Their primary job will be to maintain the lead this juggernaut offense quickly generates.
When it comes to Leinart's decision, I can't say I totally agree with it. As a Trojans fan, I love it, but to turn down the opportunity to play on football's greatest stage (the NFL) stay at 'SC says a lot about what's important to Leinart. If money was an issue here, Leinart wouldn't bother attending classes, he'd be finding an agent and working on endorsement deals. He would have chose to go to the NFL - a choice that brings with it the status of instant-millionaire.
Instead, Leinart chose the road less traveled, a road lined with screaming fans covered in cardinal and gold, praising their hero who has decided to lead them to glory once again.
We're lookin' forward to 2005, Matt. Fight on for the three-peat!