A Winter of Wondering

Without a postseason bowl and the knowledge that four juniors will return for their senior season, USC fans are struggling in a month that is supposed to be full of jolly and merriment.

Some Trojan fans are currently sitting in a form of Football Purgatory.

While Oregon and Stanford prepare to face its January opponents, you, USC diehards, are experiencing a cardinal and gold drought.

Not only will you have to wait months before seeing Dion Bailey swarm to the ball again or another of Marqise Lee's acrobatic grabs, you have no idea if four critical players will make their return in 2012.

Laker fans had it easy. They knew they weren't getting CP3 within a day. If you're scouring for news about the two Matts (Barkley and Kalil), Nick Perry and T.J. McDonald, the lack of information can be frustrating.

Isn't December supposed to be a jolly time? Full of eggnog and regifting?

But for the poor USC fan, this time is an ordeal. Because you just don't know. If that 50-0 rout of UCLA was the final game for many of those talented juniors, surely you'd have wished it was in January.

Against a more competitive team, perhaps?

But there is good news to be found in December, said USC fan, aside from the inevitable Christmas bonuses and chocolate surplus.

First, there is still a possibility Barkley will come back. And that hope should be uplifting enough.

He practically sat on the tarmac, waiting for his flight to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, before Tyrann Mathieu knocked him out of his seat. If Barkley had been there, it might have sealed the signalcaller's departure.

He knew he was one of the nation's best, setting school record after school record and helping the Trojans end the season at No. 5 in the AP Poll. He was within arm's of all the glory. And yet, those pesky sanctions cut short his reach, leaving a competitor dissatisfied. Leaving him hungry.

Maybe the "one more year" chants were loud enough, and the postseason glory in 2012 will be enough to make him return.

Then again, as so many have illustrated with their innumerable pro and con charts, a lot would be left on the table if he returns.

It's impossible to assume a 20-year old's intentions. We can dream up a USC wonderland, a supersized version of 2011 with even more weapons and greater dominance.

But sometime in the next three weeks, that snowglobe might get a few cracks in it and your picture perfect season could become a fuzzy puzzle…

So rather than surmise, let the news be your Christmas surprise.

Instead of the endless "what ifs," let future commits be your gifts.

Next season will be bright and glorious to all wearing red,

Even if your leader is Cody, Jesse, Max or some chap named Fred.

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