Have you seen the Oregon Men's Basketball schedule yet? To quote Colin Cowherd "Ricola! Ridiculous!" Let's be realistic--this schedule is a pathetic joke. I will now break down the "marquee" matchups that comprise the Ducks' non-conference schedule:
Fri., Nov. 10: Lehigh Is this some high school team? May as well be.
Sat., Nov. 11 CSU-Northridge Of all the schools in the CS system? Hey, Ernie, are you sure you didn't mean San Diego State? Fresno State? Hell, even San Jose State?
Sun., Nov. 12 Portland State How conveinent, the Ducks set themselves up to win their own tournament. I like scheduling Portland State every year, as I think the four in-state schools should play each other every year, but doesn't starting off with three cupcakes set them up for mediocrity?
Fri., Nov. 17 UC-Irvine The Ducks are going to be 4-0. Jump for joy.
Mon., Nov. 20 @ Rice This is Chamberlain Oguchi's homecoming game, and, to tell the truth, after the Ducks' recent history in road openers, I don't mind scheduling a mediocre team (how's that for a run-on sentence!).
Wed., Nov. 29 @ Georgetown Okay, this is the ONLY good game on the non-conference schedule, which makes it a virtual must win to give the Ducks any kind of leeway with the NCAA selection committee. Lose this game, and you have no marquee non-conference wins on the schedule. Shame on Ernie for making it that way, but that's the sad, sad, truth.
Sat., Dec. 09 Nebraska (in Portland) I thought that they wanted the Pape Jam to become a premier event? While we have had Kansas and Illinois play there, we have also had Marshall and now, Nebraska. No offense to Corn Nation, but Nebraska isn't exactly a powerhouse. The Pape Jam is supposed to be our marquee non-conference game. Yet, we are stuck with this crap.
Mon., Dec. 11 Bethune-Cookman Woof.
Fri., Dec. 15 Eastern Washington Um, Ernie, the team you meant to schedule here was Gonzaga. Why is it that we never play them, anyway? This game is garbage.
Sun., Dec. 17 Idaho State Did you know that the mighty Bengals are from Pocatello?
Sat., Dec. 23 Mercer Who?
Thurs., Dec. 28 Portland I can't really complain about this, especially as the Pilots wiped the floor with us last year.
Well, the good news is that worst case scenario the Ducks will open up 11-1. The bad news, that is exaclty how Ernie Kent planned it. Every year, with our talent, people expect good things from the hoops team. And every year, Ernie lets them down. So, knowing that if he doesn't produce this year he is going to be canned, he created a schedule where he almost guarantees himself a 20-win season, believing that is the benchmark he needs to meet to keep his job. In other words, Ernie is being a big coward (which is just another reason to can him).
To be fair to Ernie, he won a Pac-10 title here, and got us to an Elite Eight. But that was in 2002--what has he done since then? Or before then, for that matter? The truth of the matter is that no team seems to do less with more talent than Oregon. Kent is consistenly outcoached. He has failed to produce a single decent post presence his whole tenure here. There are rumors of personal indiscretions. And all of the in-state kids who know better want nothing to do with the Oregon program (see Kevin Love and Kyle Singler).
Kent knows he was lucky not to get fired last year, so he set up this schedule to ensure a winning season. If the Ducks start the season 11-1, they only have to go .500 in conference and get bounced out in the first round of the conference tourney to ensure a 20-win season (and a NIT berth). The problem is that Kent has also severely dangered the program in the process. With this schedule, we HAVE to finish top-3 in the Pac-10 to make the NCAA tourney. While I feel that we should expect no less every year, kent has given us no margin for error in case we miss that mark. And, knowing Kent's history, he probably will.
I'm not one who wants to fire a coach every time we have a mediocre season or two. I think that a program needs to be stable. However, Coach Kent has consistently shown that he is just not a very good coach, and now he comes out with this schedule that is a shameless ploy to try and keep his job. I'm not one that hopes the Ducks will lose just so we fire the coach. I hope that he finds a way to turn it around, and that the team has a very good season this year. However, this is Kent's LAST CHANCE. A good coach should be able to have a decent season with these teams (notice how his only good team was the one with three lottery picks on it). And at this point I do not believe that Kent is a good coach. I think that we should be able to expect a top-4 Pac-10 finish and an NCAA tournament berth every year. We have the talent, the location, the $, the facilities, the fan base, and the noteriety to build a consistent winner here. I don't have confidence that Coach Kent is the man to do the job.
Bottom line, you're digging you're own grave, Ernie. This schedule makes it very tough to get into the NCAAs. And I think that you need a NCAA tourney win--not just an appearance, but you have to win a game--to keep you're job (and Bill Moos needs to get Mike Montgomery on speed dial).
I really hope that Ernie is able to give us that this season. Unfortunately, I just don't have too much faith.
Let the coach and AD know how you feel about this schedule: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com