Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has thrown former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel a lifeline.
To make room for Capel, who played basketball for the Blue Devils in the mid-1990s, Krzyzewski moved Nate James to the position of special assistant to hire Capel as an assistant.
But don't expect Capel to stay long at his alma mater.
Capel's final two seasons at OU were a disaster, but look for him to resurface as a head coach.
Soon. Very soon.
"Jeff has been a highly successful head coach at the Division I level and will continue that here at Duke," Krzyzewski said in a statement. "Adding a coach of his caliber will make everyone in our program better."
Capel's future could revolve around an NCAA investigation into former OU assistant Oronde Taliaferro, who was possibly involved with an adviser that reportedly gave an improper loan to player Tiny Gallon.
Insiders believe OU will never be implicated. It's already been a year since the NCAA investigation began. So far, it hasn't yielded any charges.
If nothing changes with the NCAA inquiry, Capel will be a viable head coaching candidate next spring, especially if he's willing to take a mid-major job or rebuild a BCS program.
Longtime ESPN analyst Dick Vitale has no doubt Capel will be given another opportunity.
“He was one of the top young up-and-comers when he took them to the Elite Eight with Blake Griffin,” Vitale said. “I like Jeff a lot, but it's what have you done for me lately? A few players put him in a tough position.”
The “players” were McDonald's All-Americans Tommy Mason-Griffin, Willie Warren and Gallon. The trio contributed to a late-season meltdown.
A top 20 team in preseason, the Sooners finished with a 13-18 record.
The trio dealt Capel a double whammy by declaring for the NBA Draft. That left Capel no time to rebuild the roster.
Despite a 14-18 finish, Capel proved during his final season at OU that he's a solid X's and O's coach.
Picked 11th in the Big 12, the Sooners were better than projected. Opposing coaches commented how hard they played, how much they improved from the beginning of the season.
That's the ultimate compliment for a coach.
But Capel couldn't overcome declining attendance and the Sooners having back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1967. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione felt a change was needed. He fired Capel and hired Lon Kruger.
Capel is only 36. He was the youngest Division I head coach (age 27) when Virginia Commonwealth gave him the job.
Capel's resume reads a solid 175-110 record in nine seasons as a head coach. The Sooners were 96-69 in five seasons under Capel.
Yes, Capel's stock has fallen. But he's not the first, nor will he be the last, forced to reprove himself.
And he will have to reprove himself. Several Krzyzewski protégés have fallen on hard times in recent years.
Quin Snyder was fired at Missouri. Tommy Amaker was fired at Michigan. David Henderson was fired at Delaware. And now Capel joins the list.
But Capel can coach. He's a better coach than Snyder, Amaker or Henderson.
Capel had an invaluable lesson that character can be as important as talent. As long as OU isn't implicated in the NCAA inquiry, someone will give Capel a chance. And he probably won't have to wait long.