Time's running out for Ernie Kent.
True, that's been the general feeling around Eugene for some time, but this may actually be the year the Oregon coach gets his walking papers. With a $200 million arena opening next season, the Ducks need someone who can ensure people fill those seats.
And it doesn't sound like Oregon thinks Kent's the man for the job.
SI's George Schroeder has the rundown in a story that touches on Kent's failures, his victories and what the school hopes to gain by firing their all-time winningest coach. Because getting someone to succeed where Kent failed isn't easy.
The Ducks haven't given fans much reason to show up and make noise -- unless you count talk shows and message boards, where the discussion is about a future without Kent.
That's perhaps the bigger problem: Who's going to replace Kent? The popular choice would be Mark Few, a local boy. But he's shown no inclination to leave what he's built at Gonzaga -- and it was only last year that he turned away interest from Oregon that could easily have become an offer. Insiders say Few considers the job to be a notch below his current gig.
If not Few, the Ducks will still want to make a big splash with the hire, and they'll throw a lot of money at the right guy. But as other schools have seen in recent years, it's not easy to land a big name. The job is better than Few thinks, and Kent is correct: it gets better with the new digs. But it's not a destination job.
That statement might offend Oregon officials and fans, but it's true. Even with the new digs, it's not like recruits are clamoring to come to Eugene, and the local talent base isn't enough to elevate them to the Final Four.
Say Few passes on the job. What then? Will Oregon be able to lure in a big-name coach? Are they willing to take a chance on a hot assistant? These are questions one has to answer with a $200 million palace on the line.
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