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ASU Football: PAC-12 Opt-Outs Could very well raise Devils’ Chances in PAC-12

AllSunDevils spoke with USC reporter Alicia de Artola about the state of the Pac-12.
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Keeping up with the PAC-12 hasn’t always been rewarding lately.

There’s been lots of false hope over whether the conference will be playing or not, and these programs and their fans are starving for football more than ever.

A sign of the times, many top players in the PAC-12 have opted out for the NFL Draft, choosing to forego the spring season that the PAC-12 is hoping to set up in 2021.

These are important pieces in the landscape of the conference, and these opt-outs could have major impacts on the results of what is to come in the spring season should it play out. (I’m choosing not to even consider believing the hype about the November start of PAC-12 football until I see it. I, of course, have my fingers crossed.)

Some schools have been hit harder with opt-outs than others (check AllSunDevils site publisher, Sande Charles’ PAC-12 opt-out tracker to stay up to date with the whole picture).

In particular, USC and Oregon are missing two and three of their best players for this season, respectively. For Oregon, that is CBs Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir, as well as OL Penei Sewell. The PAC-12 South favorite is now without DT Jay Tufele and OT Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Most would still expect Oregon to take the North, but these departures from Los Angeles could very well have the PAC-12 South up for grabs. To confirm, I spoke with Alicia de Artola, Junior Editor with Fansided and Site Expert of Reign of Troy, USC’s Fansided publication.

She sees this as an opportunity for Arizona State as well.

“I thought it was going to be straightforward that Oregon would win the North, and USC would win the South, and then whichever team would have the best game in the PAC-12 title game would win the conference,” said de Artola.

“Alijah Vera-Tucker was so important to keeping USC’s offense going, and him opting out puts USC’s offensive line in such a precarious place…In the South, it’s really anyone’s division…If USC’s vulnerable, Utah or ASU is absolutely capable of winning it.”

USC media has not been very favorable of Clay Helton these last two years. I haven’t been myself. I acknowledge that he’s had the most injuries in the country these last two years; however, many, including myself, still think he hasn’t done enough in these last two years to continue earning a head coaching job at a program as prestigious as USC.

Alicia sees coaching stability being crucial for this strange season.

“ASU is a team that I think people are confident in what Herm Edwards is doing for them,” said de Artola. “It’s very possible that ASU takes that extra step up while USC has to replace their best offensive lineman…There’s a perception that Herm Edwards has a little bit more control, and that is really all you need to get through these kinds of circumstances.”

Not only with college football, but with sports, in general, this year, debate has raged over the legitimacy of these compromised seasons happening in the sports world. Obviously, winter and spring college sports even had to shut down completely.

Opt-outs could be another reason people take issue with the season. It could be viewed as the best teams in the conference facing penalties for having players good enough to be drafted or drafted early into the NFL. De Artola doesn’t believe in the excuses game.

“Why isn’t USC producing more of those guys?” said de Artola when discussing this in regards to USC’s situation. “Why does USC have a depth chart that’s barely two-deep? That’s on USC’s recruiting, that’s on USC’s roster management, and all of that. So if USC falters because they lost AVT, USC has no one to blame but themselves for not being ready to go.”