The Pac-12 will play football after all, with the Thursday night announcement that the league will return on Nov. 7. The league will be without its best player, and top 2021 NFL Draft hopeful though: Oregon football’s Penei Sewell.
Pac-12 school will play seven game seasons. It is unclear how that will impact the league’s ability to get into College Football Playoff contention, a real struggle for the league over the last few years. The Big Ten is playing eight regular season games plus one additional game for each team, coinciding with the Big Ten championship, while the SEC is playing 10 games, and ACC and Big 12 have 11 game schedules.
With the Big Ten’s return, there was clear pressure on the Pac-12 to get back involved this fall. The league also previously announced that it had gained access to rapid daily testing, which will hopefully allow it to avoid outbreaks within its member programs. The leagues that have already started have struggled to contain the virus, with over 20 games being postponed already this season.
Back when it looked like the Pac-12 might play during the spring semester, Penei Sewell opted out of whatever would become of the season. Even with this new decision, it looks like Sewell’s decision is final. For a potential top five pick, it is hard to blame him for protecting his health here, rather than playing a significantly shortened Oregon football season.
Mario Cristobal confirmed while on ESPN that Penei Sewell is not returning, said Oregon supports him. Also said Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir can return but have not indicated if they will. Updated story:https://t.co/Ux7oXktHkM
— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) September 25, 2020
Sewell, last year’s Outland Trophy winner, has had “no discussion about reversing his decision now that the Pac-12 is playing this fall,” according to James Crepea of The Oregonian. He has signed with an agent already in preparation of next spring’s NFL Draft.
Players in Sewell’s position can apply for a waiver for reinstatement after signing with an agent, as long as they repay anything they receive. He is not considering doing so, per the report.
Sewell is widely considered a top five pick, and likely the first offensive lineman to go in the NFL Draft. There’s a good chance he winds up being the first non-quarterback taken in the draft, assuming whomever lands the top pick goes with Trevor Lawrence (or Justin Fields, Trey Lance).