Pac-12 Quickly Slip-Sliding Away

Pac-12 Quickly Slip-Sliding Away

It wasn't so long ago that Pac-12 basketball elicited respect from television's talking heads. The league was so good that it demanded attention.

In three consecutive seasons, from 2007 to 2009, the league hogged a total of 18 berths in the NCAA tournament. UCLA was finishing a run of three straight Final Fours.

The talent level was ridiculous. In the 2008 NBA draft, the league had five of the first 11 players taken, people like O.J. Mayo and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

That year the league had 12 players drafted. Another bountiful haul in the 2009 draft — including James Harden, Demar Derozan and Jrue Holiday — meant that in a span of two drafts, the league had 13 first-round picks and 21 players taken overall.

When players weren't headliners, coaches were. Washington State's Tony Bennett, building from the foundation of his father, Dick, won 24 league games in two years. The bar was so high that Oregon ran Ernie Kent out after he took teams to the Elite Eight twice since 2002.

Those were the days.

Today, the Pac-12 warrants snickers from national columnists and TV analysts. For the first time in history, the West Coast Conference might get more bids to the NCAA than the Pac-12. With virtually no nonconference wins of significance, the Pac-12 hasn't had a team ranked in the AP top 25 since the week of Nov. 28.

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