I am not a destroyer of basketball programs. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, for Pac-10 championships, for NCAA Tournament berths -- has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save the University of Oregon Men's Basketball Program but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Death knells are ringing for Ernie Kent's job and the bangs are getting louder and louder. As much as I hate to admit it, maybe it is time for Ernie to be released from his contract. Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't think he should be fired for last season or what he does or doesn't bring to the table. I think he should be let go because he doesn't deserve the crap our fanbase and commentators give him. I bet there isn't a day gone by in the last five years that Ernie hasn't been asked about his job status and for what reason? Being the winningest coach in history at Oregon? Going to the NCAA Tournament more than any other coach for the Ducks? Being one of a select few programs to win Pac-10 championships this DECADE? None of that matters because Ernie has two of the biggest problems a college coach can have...high expectations fueled by big money donors and very steep peaks and valleys in the program.
Everyone knows that college sports is a big business and if you don't have the donors in your corner, it doesn't matter how well you do. Look at the moves of Kilkenny as AD. Every move has been made to fund the bottom line. This isn't to say this is always a bad thing, but that doesn't play into Kent having a future in Oregon. Kilkenny was willing to cut a successful wrestling program so that baseball could be brought back. It wasn't because baseball was "cool", it was a calculated business decision that college baseball will start to receive a lot of national attention and become the media darling in the next few years. Omaha is already a big deal and will continue to get bigger as ESPN and FOX start to jump on the bandwagon. Wrestling? The sport is dying. More and more colleges are cutting it because of expense. Is it a coincidence that baseball is starting an entire year before the Stunts and Gymnastics Team? I don't think so. You fall out of favor with the donors and you become a liability to them, even if it has been the best it has ever been. Those with the money make the rules and Ernie's resume doesn't continue to produce the revenue that the people with the money want to see.
To Ernie's credit, he has helped move Oregon Basketball into the modern era, pushing the program to heights it hadn't seen in recent memory. He was (and still is) called a "great recruiter" and a "wonderful teacher of young men" but what happened to those calls now that expectations have risen? He is still a great recruiter but now he just can't develop the talent he recruits because they aren't immediate superstars. People say he doesn't run an offense but he runs a Motion Offense. He can't develop talent but several players from his tenure are playing professionally after 4 years at Oregon. Instead of being a wonderful teacher of young men, the calls have become "yeah, he gets guys to graduate but anyone can do that". How about these numbers from 2008? Not everyone can, especially in the Pac-10. For quick reference, Oregon scored 58, 3rd in the Pac-10 behind Stanford and Oregon State during that period.
The worst thing Ernie ever did was have too much success. He gave too much to the Oregon fanbase too soon. Once people got a taste of Pac-10 Championships and NCAA Tournaments, they wanted more and Ernie became the lightning rod for their displeasure. You tend to forget all the good times when things aren't going your way. It has gotten to the point that if Oregon were to ever have success again with Ernie at the helm, it would never be because of the coach. It would be success DESPITE the coach and that is just plain wrong. Ernie Kent doesn't need that hanging over his head. In a classic case of "What have you done for me lately?", Ernie needs to go where he is appreciated. With big money donors and a fanbase with a short memory, the bottom line is all that counts anymore and Ernie has been written off as a liability.