Today is a sad day. It marks the end of a beautiful relationship that we shared together. The University of Washington students and you, Ernie Kent, head coach of the Oregon Ducks and our greatest adversary.
A foe unlike any other, you proved yourself worthy of our animosity, our scorn, our jokes, and our begrudging respect all at the same time.
You were a stubborn man, but not without conviction. Our tumultuous working relationship, in fact, began as a result of your headstrong attitude.
Back in 2005, you decided you wanted our student section relocated to your personal liking. The Dawg Pack, you argued, should not breathe down the necks of opposing ballclubs. The Dawg Pack, you reasoned, would be better situated across the court, or at least along the baselines.
You even went so far as to petition the Pac-10 with your proposal. Unfortunately for you (and fortunately for us), they shot you down. Legend has it that then-Arizona head coach Lute Olson stood up on our behalf, praising the Washington student section and insisting that we not be moved.
Throughout this ordeal, the Dawg Pack responded with an olive branch-of-sorts, sending a bouquet of purple-and-gold flowers to your Eugene headquarters, along with a card featuring the words to the infamous Carpenter’s song, Close To You. It was signed, sealed, and delivered, filled with tough love and words of inspiration. We never received a thank you, but undaunted, we moved on.
Less than a year later, we found out that you had more or less committed adultery by taking a “recruiting trip” to Mexico with a woman who was not your wife. In spite of the circumstances, you remained contrite in dealing with your family matters and for that — regardless of one’s feelings on the situation — we must properly praise you. Only a strong individual could deal with such indiscretions the way you did.
That did not, however, prevent us from making light of your ordeal. Coinciding with your annual trip to Seattle was our yearly salute to the nation of Mexico. Wearing sombreros, displaying signs, chanting in Spanish, and replete with a Mexican flag, we made your ventures to our campus a reminder of infidelities gone by.
Some may find this hard to believe, and to this day this fact has remained a secret, but we were not without accomplices. Now that you’ve been terminated, it is only right that we share this pertinent piece of information with the rest of the world: It was an Oregon booster who furnished our ethnic headwear during that inaugural Mexican Heritage Night. And though for his own protection he shall remain anonymous, it was this mysterious Duck fan who purchased our sombreros and instructed us to wear them, if for no other reason than to publicize Mexico, we’ll say. (Though it’s also fair to say that he wanted you fired, Ernesto, which he made clear to us.)
Sadly, five years of fiestas will not become six. Our celebration of salsa and samba will cease in 2011, an unfortunate repercussion of your untimely axing.
Ernie, I’m not going to lie. I wish they wouldn’t have fired you.
You entertained me, made me laugh, brought a certain happiness into my life that cannot be replicated.
You once injured yourself flailing your arm as you encouraged your team. That’s passion, true devotion. You wore the resulting sling like a badge of honor.
A quick Google Image search of your name reveals the natural comedy of your being. Like every photographer ever has conspired to snap only snort-inducing, knee-slapping pictures of you. If there is one flattering photo of you on the internet, I have yet to find it.
Ernie, your legacy at Oregon may be muddled, but for us, it is nothing short of legendary. You inspired us, Ernie, and for that we thank you.
And from me, personally, a world of gratitude. You gave me caption contests, an ESPN photo shoot, and the initial following to get this website off the ground. Without you, suffice it to say I would not be where I am today.
Ernesto, as both amigo and enemy, I salute you for all you’ve done. I wish you the very best in all your future ventures, and sincerely hope you land another coaching gig as soon as possible. May your personal life be filled with joy and your career with success. Ultimately, things may not have gone the way you would have wished at Oregon, but with any luck your happy ending will be written elsewhere.
Your biggest fan.
And now for a look back at Ernie’s tenure at Oregon in the form of a photo montage. Enjoy.