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Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

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Tomorrow is an epic day for all of you fans of Troy. No, LAist speaks not of the cumbersome, homo-erotic, overlong and overhyped Brad Pitt fiasco from this past summer, but rather of a certain press conference occurring within the holy walls of the University of Southern California.

There, one Matt Leinart, better known as the quarterbacking heartthrob of your national champion football Trojans, will answer the question that has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue since the last seconds of the Orange Bowl ticked off in Miami. His coach, Pete Carroll, is on pins and needles…legions of USC boosters are nervously pacing the halls…and hordes of unscrupulous, blood-sucking sports agents are presently hunched over their speed dialers, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. It is undoubtedly the most burning question we have seen in Hollywood in ages:

What went wrong with Brad and Jen? Are Lindsay’s breasts real? Why is JLO so unhappy? Sorry, not even close. While all of the above are undoubtedly pointed, pressing issues that perhaps one day will be addressed in this very space, the real question to be answered once and for all tomorrow is that old standby: Will he stay or will he go?

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That’s right. Matt Leinart’s self-imposed deadline has come due. The dilemma: does the youngster intend to play out his senior year at USC or jump to the pros? Well, guess what? In sticking to his true Hollywood roots, (well, Santa Ana actually, but work with us on this one—it’s a better angle) Matt intends to leave his fans guessing up until the final minute tomorrow.

What will he do? Eschew the glory of USC football for the Siren’s song of NFL riches? Or will he stiff-arm the Wells Fargo truck and the thirty million dollar contract and stick around campus for one final hurrah as officially the Biggest Man On Campus that may have ever existed? Only time will tell sports fans. And that clock is running out…even the great Matthew claims he still doesn’t have any idea about what he’ll do.

LAist has done some checking around and researched this case pretty thoroughly, and while it seems young Mr. Leinart is facing a decision on par with the one Meryl Streep made in “Sophie’s Choice,” we have a simple, straightforward answer.

You see, things have gotten very complicated for the poor kid. There’s one set of advisors telling him that he’s done all he can in college football: a boatload of wins, 2 straight national championships and a Heisman Trophy. Heck, he even dates Jessica Simpson’s personal assistant. That’s got to count for something…what else is there? What if he gets hurt next year and it’s all over? He’d be an idiot to turn down the reams of cash countless NFL teams are ready to throw at him right now. They tell him to take the money and run.

But there is another set of mouthpieces that vehemently and strenuously object to this discourse. These flacks have tried to make Matt understand that he's only a college student once in his life.

That the NFL is a business, not a game, and he needs to enjoy his amateur status for as long as he possibly can. They tell him to look at the example Peyton Manning set several years ago, shunning the NFL's riches for one last shot at glory with his beloved Tennessee Volunteers. And things worked out pretty well for him, wouldn't you say? Besides, (insert drumroll here) wouldn't you like to be the only quarterback in college football history with three straight national championships to his credit? Now that's a really friggin' Big Man On Campus. We're talking Ruben Studdard big.

LAist sees the logic on both sides of this quandary. But after reading countless interviews and stories about young Mr. Leinart, we think the decision is an easy one.

Stay.

Not for the boosters. Not for Pete Carroll. Not even for Jessica Simpson's personal assistant. Stay for you. If you really wanted to be a pro football player, you'd be one already. If it isn't in your heart to leave, then don't do it. It's that simple. You only get a chance to be BMOC once in your life. When it's gone, it's gone. There is plenty of time for you to get yelled at by drunken idiots at the next level. LAist says to step back and enjoy USC's own drunken idiots for one more go-round. Take out an insurance policy. Work hard in the off-season. The rest will take care of itself.

Stay. You'll thank us later. Trust us.

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(Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, LAist feels obliged to mention here that we have placed a sizable bet on USC to win it all next year. But that in no way has colored our judgment in this case. Matt, we speak from the heart. And the wallet.)

Go Trojans.

*******UPDATE****** 1/13/05

Like Paris Hilton at a new club opening, today's dastardly deadline came and went with nary a decision from USC's Mighty Matt Leinart. Will he succumb to the NFL's promise of riches, fame and glory? Or can USC pay him enough under the table to stay in college one more year? We kid, we kid. At any rate, it appears that Trojan football fans everywhere are going to have one more long, earnest night of waiting ahead of them, since Mr. Leinart has decided to put off his decision one more day.

Yesterday in this space LAist offered up its own opinion on what the youngster with the sterling left arm and golden bank account should do, and given the day's events we feel even stronger about our position.

Stay in school, kid. We know you want to.

Don't get us wrong...LAist loves Matt Leinart as an NFL prospect. There is no question he has the skills to excel at the next level. And he has the looks to be a darling on Madison Avenue, too. But what he lacks right now is a true desire to be a professional quarterback. Clearly, Leinart loves being a college student, where he gets to strut around campus as the unquestioned leader of the two-time national champion Trojan football team. Not many other sociology majors can say that. Nor can they hoist a Heisman Trophy at the next kegger.

Stay in school, kid.

Carson Palmer, USC's other Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and now a very promising signal caller for the Cincinnati Bengals, told him as much yesterday. Undoubtedly, many NFL advisors have said the same thing.

When you've got the world in the palm of your hand at 21 years of age, life can sometimes be confusing. But LAist urges this particular youngster to heed the sage advice he has received from those urging him to continue on his college journey.

Today's postponement of his "Personal Deadline" is a clear indication that the love of pro sports is not there yet. To that, LAist can only offer kudos. Pro football is a cold hearted, tough, at times miserable business. It is also a replacement business where one kid's future can best be described as: "Who is Matt Leinart? Get me Matt Leinart. Get me the next Matt Leinart. Who the hell is Matt Leinart?"

It's cold blooded. And it will always be there. Disregard the doomsayers, Matt. Forget the injury risks. That's why God created insurance companies. And ignore the idiots who could never walk a meter in your shoes, much less a mile.

Stay in school, kid.

It only comes along once, and then it's gone. LAist suggests you get Peyton Manning on the phone immediately for his opinion. After all, he just completed the single greatest season in NFL history and now he's the popular favorite to win his first Super Bowl.
Call him tout de suite, as the French would say. Say hello, and then listen. Listen very carefully as he tells you how happy he was that he stayed in college for all 4 years. And you know what? He left a winner, too.

Stay tuned on this one, sports fans. And turn up your radios at 2:30 PM tomorrow. Heritage Hall will most assuredly be buzzing.