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Ernie Kent returns to Eugene to face the Ducks

After a coaching stint at Oregon that spanned more than a decade, Ernie Kent will be the enemy today in Matthew Knight Arena.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

When Ernie Kent leads his WSU Cougars against the Oregon Ducks on Sunday, it will mark the first time that Kent will be on the opposing bench since his departure from Eugene after the 2010 season. As Craig noted in his preview, both teams are expected to put up a ton of points, while defense will be optional. It's almost as if football season hasn't ended at WSU.

It will likely be an emotional return for Kent, as he is an Oregon alum and led them to considerable heights while he was in Eugene. His counterpart Dana Altman (who has been whistling through the graveyard for a while) experienced the same situation when he returned to Creighton as Oregon's coach, though as he notes, the circumstances were a bit different because he was facing players he recruited and coached, which won't be the case for Kent. For his part, Kent said Sunday's game will be a little different.

"It becomes a different scenario altogether, having to come back into Eugene where you spent half your adult life in Eugene," Kent said. "It will be a different set of emotions, but once the game gets going it becomes just another game where you have to do the things you need to do to have an opportunity to be successful."

Even though the circumstances are a good bit different, this got me to thinking about a coach from WSU's past, and what his reception would be if he ever returned to Pullman as the opponent. But enough about Paul Graham, let's talk about Tony Bennett. His departure and subsequent success, along with WSU's steady descent, has been covered repeatedly throughout WSU circles, so there's no need to rehash any of that. However, I am curious what his reception by the Cougar faithful would be when Tony was introduced.

I think the reception would be somewhat mixed, but would tend toward the negative side, though it likely wouldn't be nearly as negative as it would have been a few years ago. If Ken Bone had kept WSU competitive, human nature would likely dictate that nobody would have been all that upset about Bennett's departure in the long run. However, we are where we are. Bennett has taken Virginia from ACC also-ran to Final Four contender, while WSU is at the beginning stages of yet another rebuilding project. That leaves Cougar fans in a familiar position, wondering what might have been.


WSU head coach Erine Kent returns to Oregon for first time as opposition - - Feb. 5, 2015
PULLMAN – Ernie Kent never got to coach in the basketball Taj Mahal that he helped erect. When he does for the first time Sunday, he will do so as an intruder. Totally modern, the 12,364-seat, $227 million Matthew M. Knight Arena is an homage to "new money" and the envy of most professional teams.

Ernie Kent returns to Eugene Sunday, and the Oregon Ducks hope to welcome him by beating the Cougars |
Kent, in his first year at Washington State, is making his return to Eugene after coaching the Ducks for 13 years.

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Track and Field

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