Oregon Boosters Rooting For A Tank Job?

Never, ever truly believe the stuff a columnist writes about it until it actually happens, but let’s consider an interesting item lurking in the latest column from John Canzano in the Portland Oregonian, which questions Oregon hoops coach Ernie Kent’s leadership (not long after he made an Elite Eight run in the tourney last year — how soon we forget.)  Now, this is set up in a press conference where Kent essentially put all of the fault of blowing a 10-point lead at UCLA on Saturday on his players.

That’s significant today, because there was a small, important faction of Ducks Athletic Fund donors who watched Saturday’s game, mildly rooting against their favorite team. A few of them were inside Pauley Pavilion, and even as they would have cheered an Oregon victory, they left with the comfort that a loss might somehow eventually lead to better days.

They didn’t root against an upset because they want Oregon (15-12 with three Pacific-10 Conference games and the conference tournament left) to miss the NCAA Tournament, but because they knew beating UCLA in Westwood had the potential to inhibit the future.

What is that future? Kent got an extension after the Eight appearance, but the buyout is reduced to $1 million and the Ducks have a $200 million arena possibly coming to Eugene — if the Ducks miss the tourney completely, that kind of drop can get a coach canned.

And the negotiation win left open the possibility that Oregon could fire Kent if he misses the NCAA Touranament, then attempt to lure Mark Few, Kilkenny’s pal, from Gonzaga with a life-altering financial package, a new arena and the opportunity to coach in the best basketball conference in the country.

Hmmm.  Kent isn’t helping himself with a 6-9 conference record, but looking to ax the coach one season removed from an Elite Eight trip seems, well, hasty and ill-conceived at the very least. Why even print the scenario where he can be canned and put it out there? Someone wants it there, and Kent, despite the recent success, is not the person certain folks in Eugene want around.

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11 Responses

  1. It’s pretty well known Canzano has a general dislike for University of Oregon athletics. You do have to take what he says about the Ducks with a grain of salt. However, I think he may have a point about Ernie’s leadership. The discontent with EK stems from the too little success the “best recruiting class in Oregon history” has had. Ernie is a great recruiter but game time adjustments, and placing blame on players while not accepting blame, has exposed EK. I can’t help but think some of these great players EK has had have bailed him out, despite himself. He doesn’t create an offense to fit the players he has. Look at all the big men who have gone wasted. He wants players on the floor that look like Ernie Kent in his playing days, running up and down the court jacking threes. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  2. Typically I don’t like to read Canzano, but in this article I think he finally got it right. In my mind its absolutely unacceptable for the senior-led ducks team to miss the tourney. They have the experience, they have the skill yet where they lack is in leadership. The last successful duck teams all had one thing in common. A quality PG (Brooks/Ridnour). As much as Ernie would like to believe Tajuan Porter is not a PG, yet he still runs the EXACT same offense every year. Enough is enough.

  3. I can’t stand Canzano and try not to read his articles. He does have a way of irritating Duck fans but with this article I actually agreed with him. I haven’t been a Kent fan for years and would love to see a coaching change. Ernie is always throwing guys under the bus. As a head coach you would think that at some point he would take some blame but he just keeps putting it on the kids. At some point he should come to the conclusion that it isn’t the kids but his “game plan” that might be the problem. Why does Hairston only get 9 shot attempts, or why do we have a 5ft. nothing PG going one on one for our game winning shots. Its no wonder we struggle. The biggest question for me regarding any Oregon coach is, “Would I let my own son play for him?” . Sorry….but no. I love the Ducks and am a season ticket holder but I can’t say I would trust my own kids development in life or in sport with Ernie.

  4. I remember telling my friends after Kent got his contract extension that Oregon will keep him around until the next season where his team under-performs. I certainly didn’t expect it to be THIS season.

    TP has been the death of this team. He is not the future PG of this program.

    Ernie would be much better off if he threw Brown in for major minutes to let him grow into the position..at least that would give him some slack.

  5. I could agree more with canzano, I am tired of hearing kent blame his players but don’t mention his play calling after a timeout really sucks, specially after a timeout with 2 minutes or less. He has basically blamed everyone on his team but himself. I am sorry but this team is the same team that made it to the elite eight with the exception of brooks. keep blaming the veteran players kent its much easier to do then take any blame for yourself. I am ready to see a coach that can introduce a inside game instead of the bombing away of 3 pointers. please be right on this one canzano.

  6. people want to see success with a 200 mil stadium coming in. if the ducks arent winning, it’s going to be nearly impossible to sell tickets at the price they will be at. canzano makes a point that the alum may want a new face. tp is as worthless as brady leaf and to hear ernie kent say “his game is off” is ridiculous. all oregon lost from last season is brooks and although he was a huge impact player, there is still plenty of other talent on this team. it’s hard to picture kent getting canned with the recruiting class of 08 coming in, there is a lot of potential. perhaps this will always be a “one more year or else” scenario that lingers for far too long. people may respect him more if he took some blame for the lack of inspiration his players have shown at the end of games. maybe he could send the highscreen with tp to the grave as well.

  7. [...] boosters rooting against Ducks to have Ernie Kent fired [Signal to [...]

  8. Wait–is this the same Ernie Kent who had 3 first-round draft picks with Ridnour, Jackson, and Jones? The same Ernie Kent who put his team in the Elite Eight? or is this another Ernie Kent? ha. I’m certainly not close enough to the scene to know if Ernie’s antics outweigh his previous accomplishments. But this seems pretty shady to me. The Pac-10 is really strong this year, and there’s nothing that unusual about teams having a letdown after a strong NCAA tourney run the year before.

  9. EVEN THOUGH THIS YEARS BBALL TEAM HAS UNDERACHIEVED MAYBE WE ARE ALL FORGETTING HOW IMPORTANTS AARON BROOKS WAS TO THIS TEAM?? IF YOU WATCH THE PLAYERS NONE OF THEM HAVE THE FIRE THE KILLER INSTINCT NEEDED TO PLAY SPORTS.THEY ALL SEEM LIKE NICE GUYS BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO FLIP THE SWITCH AND BE AGGRESSIVE ,INTIMMIDATING,AS FOR john canzano, THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER IS WHERE HIS DREAM JOB IS AND I HOPE HE GETS HIS GOAL.EVERY YEAR HE BAGS ON THE DUCKS PROGRAMS UNTILL THEY START DOING GREAT THEN KENT OR BELLOTI ARE ALL THE SUDDEN GENIUS,AND THE SECOND THE LOSE HE THROWS THEM THE PLAYERS AND THE SCHOOL UNDER THE BUS.THE MAN HAS NO PRIDE AND I WONT BUY THE OREGONION BECAUSE OF HIM AND CERTAINLEY WONT READ HIS CRAP!!!!! ALLL DUCK FANS SHOULD BOYCOTT THE PAPER AND HIM UNTILL HE MOVES TO WHERE HE BELONGS, WASHINGTON.

  10. Canzano also can’t get over this Kilkenny/Few relationship.

  11. Hey, you should check out http://www.OurPlaybook.com which is a new community for sports fans of both pro and college sports.

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