Two big pieces of caching news news came down in the Pac-12 today, both involving coaching changes. Mike Montgomery is retiring after six seasons as the head coach at Cal, and WSU has hired ex-Oregon Ducks head coach Ernie Kent to run its basketball program on a five-year contract.
Montgomery knows basketball in the Bay Area like few others. He was the head coach at Stanford for 18 seasons after spending a few years at Montana. He then coached the Golden State Warriors for two seasons and headed back to the college ranks, where he led Cal for the past six seasons.
The 68 year-old Montgomery led Stanford to arguably the most successful stretch in its history, making the NCAA Tournament in 12 of his 18 seasons at the helm, culminating with a regular season and conference tournament championship during the 2003-04 season. He took Stanford to one Final Four and one Elite Eight. He has also led Cal to the Big Dance four times in his six seasons.
Kent spent six years as the head coach at St. Mary's, and in that sixth season (1996-97) made an NCAA Tournament berth. He was then hired at Oregon the following season, and he used his strategy of flurries of threes to take Oregon to two Elite Eights in his time there. His three other adventures to the Tourney ended up with the Ducks getting bounced in the First Round. That totalled five Tournament appearances in 13 seasons before he was canned after missing all postseason play for two straight seasons.
Kent has been serving as a color commentator for the Pac-12 Networks. His son, Jordan Kent, was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in 2007 after lettering in three sports, but never made a catch for the Seahawks.
The San Jose Mercury News went over a few candidates that could be considered to fill Montgomery's recently-vacated position. The list includes Ben Howland and current Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, among others.
With the recruiting struggles that have plagued Washington State, many believe that it will require a "system coach" similar to Mike Leach in football. Kent uses a lot of guard-heavy lineups and shoots a lot of threes. It isn't quite the vaunted "HAVOC DEFENSE" of Shaka Smart, but it is a type of system.