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Baldwin: Former OU coach Jeff Capel will not be at Duke for long

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: May 8, 2011 at 6:03 pm •  Published: May 8, 2011

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.

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