Feb 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ernie Kent (right) interviews Southern California Trojans guard Jio Fontan (1) after the game against the Arizona Wildcats at the Galen Center.USC defeated Arizona 89-78. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
According to Cougfan.com, ESPN and numerous sources, former Oregon Coach Ernie Kent will be tapped by WSU athletic director, Bill Moos, to take over as the head man for Washington State basketball.
It would appear the search is over.
Though Moos openly stated it would likely be a couple of weeks before naming a replacement for Ken Bone following the announcement Cougar hoops would be going in a different direction, fans were growing impatient with the delay.
Moos hiring Kent doesn’t match the coup when Mike Leach agreed to take over Cougar football. Given the current state of the WSU basketball program, it wasn’t likely a guy with more marquis value would take the job.
But make no mistake, Moos got the man he wanted.
"“I am excited that Ernie will be the leader of our men’s basketball program,” Moos said in a press release from WSU Athletics. “I have witnessed firsthand his many talents. He has proven that he can win championships in our conference. Together we saw tremendous success at his alma mater and I have every reason to expect to see the same at mine.”“As a player I saw the energetic environment that George Raveling’s teams created, as an assistant I witnessed Kelvin Sampson’s squads and saw the magic here and as a head coach I saw the excitement created by Tony Bennett. When WSU is having success, Beasley Coliseum is one of the best environments in the West. The students are so passionate, I saw 5,000 of them out there ready to go during warm-ups, one of the few places I’ve ever witnessed that. When you’ve seen that arena full and the program was at its best and now you have the opportunity to lead that program and you understand the potential that exists, that is very special to me.”"
Cougar basketball has enjoyed success in the past. It was hoped that Ken Bone would build on the foundation established by Dick Bennett and Tony Bennett. The fan base was expecting a return to the days of Coach Raveling, Kelvin Sampson and the Bennett era.
When he heard the news, Coach Raveling was absolutely thrilled by Moos’ choice.
"“Ernie Kent comes to WSU with sterling credentials and the necessary skill set to take the basketball program to higher levels of achievement,” Raveling said. “He has been a part of the growth of the Pac-12 from eight teams to 10 teams and now to 12 teams, he has lived the history and growth of the conference. Ernie clearly understands what it takes to achieve success in one the most difficult conferences in the country. Congratulations to ‘Cougar Nation,’ I’m excited about the selection and wish Ernie nothing but success.”"
There are numerous reasons why Ernie Kent is a great fit in Pullman. Rather than list resumé criteria, and there are plenty to enumerate, let’s boil it down to one area.
Listening to Kent toil away as a commentator and analyst for the Pac-12 Network, there was an underlying tone to his observations of other coaches. Kent not only grasped and understood moves made, he frequently offered alternative ideas coaches might employ to enjoy better results.
Ernie Kent wanted to get back to coaching, plain and simple.
All too often head coaches are sent packing after a couple of lack luster seasons. That’s at the root of why Oregon fired Kent three years ago. It wasn’t a matter of being past his prime. Heck, Kent was only 56 when his alma mater told him to hand over his keys to the Duck basketball program. A record of 24-39 over Kent’s last two seasons sealed his fate.
Kent is getting a chance for redemption without having to work his way back through a lower level conference. The Pac-12 is in the midst of a national resurgence and now he’ll now be a part of the Conference of Champions.
Wednesday will mark the beginning of a new era for Cougar basketball. It will be a matter of time before we know if excitement will return to WSU men’s basketball.
Can’t think of anyone who wants to see the guys wearing crimson and gray uniforms winning games and advancing to post season play more than Ernie Kent. And if he gets the job done, there will be the added bonus of redemption.