During our deep dive into the best players of the Pac-12 decade, it quickly became clear that recency bias would not be a problem.
The conference was substantially more talented during the first five seasons after expansion than it has been for the last five.
That’s true even if you account for the disruption in 2020.
— Consensus All-Americans
2011-15 seasons: 24
2016-20 seasons: 14
— Heisman Trophy top-10 finishes
2011-15 seasons: nine
2016-20 seasons: four
— AP top-25 teams (end-of-season)
— NFL first-round picks
2012-16 drafts: 24
2017-21 drafts: 19
We can only speculate on explanations:
The coaches aren’t recruiting as well. The talent pipeline is weaker. The competition (from other leagues) is stronger. The lack of exposure on the Pac-12 Networks has hurt. The lack of revenue (from conference distributions) has hampered resources.
Most likely, it’s all that and more. But as our all-decade team indicates, the talent tilts heavily to the first half of the decade.
Notes on the following:
— For players to qualify, at least half their career had to fall within the 2011-20 timeframe — hence the reason Andrew Luck, who left Stanford after the 2011 season, is not the second-team quarterback.
— We opted for three receivers and five defensive backs to mirror the personnel groupings most often deployed.
— The all-purpose role was defined as impacting the game on both sides of the ball.
— The first installment in our retrospective, which examined the best and worst of the 12-team era, can be found here.
QB: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota
RB: Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey
RB: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
WR: USC’s Marqise Lee
WR: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks
WR: Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry
TE: Stanford’s Zach Ertz
OL: Oregon’s Penei Sewell
OL: Stanford’s David Yankey
OL: UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo
OL: Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu
OL: Stanford’s Joshua Garnett
AP: UCLA’s Myles Jack
DL: Washington’s Vita Vea
DL: Oregon’s DeForest Buckner
DL: Arizona State’s Will Sutton
DL: USC’s Leonard Williams
LB: Arizona’s Scooby Wright
LB: UCLA’s Anthony Barr
LB: Stanford’s Trent Murphy
DB: Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
DB: Washington’s Budda Baker
DB: USC’s Adoree Jackson
DB: Utah’s Marcus Williams
DB: Washington’s Sidney Jones
K: Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez
P: Utah’s Tom Hackett
RS: Washington’s Dante Pettis
QB: Oregon’s Justin Herbert
RB: Washington’s Myles Gaskin
RB: Stanford’s Bryce Love
WR: Washington State’s Gabe Marks
WR: USC’s Robert Woods
WR: Colorado’s Laviska Shenault
TE: Oregon’s Pharaoh Brown
OL: Washington’s Trey Adams
OL: USC’s Zach Banner
OL: Washington State’s Andre Dillard
OL: Stanford’s Andrus Peat
OL: Oregon’s Jake Fisher
AP: Washington’s Shaq Thompson
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DL: Oregon’s Dion Jordan
DL: Utah’s Star Lotulelei
DL: Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa
DL: Utah’s Nate Orchard
LB: UCLA’s Eric Kendricks
LB: Cal’s Evan Weaver
LB: Colorado’s Nate Landman
DB: Utah’s Jaylon Johnson
DB: Washington’s Byron Murphy
DB: Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer
DB: Stanford’s Ed Reynolds
DB: Washington State’s Deone Bucannon
K: Utah’s Matt Gay
P: Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky
RS: Stanford’s Ty Montgomery
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