And the responses were synonymous: they had December – of 2012 – on their minds.
"Anything less than a national championship is going to be a failure. It's time to get to work," recent signee Scott Starr said.
Amir Carlisle, a freshman running back, agreed.
"We just got to get to work this offseason but I'm ecstatic about Matt's return. I bet everyone else on the team is ecstatic and we can use this as motivation to go onto next season. In my opinion anything less than a national championship is not a successful season."
Kyle Prater, a redshirt freshman receiver, said he is thrilled about the news.
"I'm excited. We finally get a chance to compete for a bowl. With him coming back our chances are great of winning a national championship."
Redshirt freshman cornerback Anthony Brown was full of confidence after hearing about Barkley's plan.
"This year, we're able to go to a bowl game and just the drive and motivation and fight of the team is going to be different. So it's going to be an easy national championship.
Matt Kalil, the junior offensive tackle who declared for the NFL draft, expects Barkley and his team to get the preseason glory of the former USC era.
Freshman kicker Andre Heidari followed suit, warning opponents that his team is not to be taken lightly.
"I think we're going to win a national championship now that he's coming back," he said. "I'm glad we had some unfinished business to do so look out Pac-12 and look out, really, the whole nation."