Emails in on Capel, OU basketball
The new emails are in, and lots of talk about OU basketball, both my column decrying the lack of leadership and Capel’s subsequent press conference.
Greg: “Watched the press conference. I feel a lot better, but what I don’t get and continue to wonder about is why Capel does not want to succumb to the instant fix of jucos, which is a proven remedy. Perhaps the nucleus of what remains and the three new players provide a good building foundation, but he needs a post player who is a legitimate scoring threat and point guard. Has Capel even indicated he is looking at jucos? I think he needs at least three, perhaps four. Two likely will not work.”
I think Capel has tried to comb the junior colleges. But there aren’t a bunch of primo juco players available this late in the game. The vast majority of top-shelf recruits sign in November. You have to beat the bushes in April, and maybe Capel still can find a gem or two. But don’t bet on it.
Brandon: “I just wanted to show my support of Coach Capel because you stated he wasn’t getting much after your columns bashing him. We are both entitled to our opinions, and I think he’s a terrific coach, and we need to do all we can to keep him here. I was at OU during the Sampson years and never liked the guy, his coaching or his attitude! And so what if he didn’t talk immediately about the goings-on at OU. He may have been advised to keep it under raps until they know a plan of strategy? But I’ve loved the way Capel coaches and handles things! He’s a very desirable coach and I think we need to be more supportive. Longar Longar is a prime example of what Capel is capable of. Longar could barely catch a ball under Sampson, then transformed his game to one of the top centers in the country in a year. Capel stresses hard work, and why our season was bad was because of lazy guys with all the talent in the world but with bad attitudes and an individual complex, Capel can try to remedy that but can’t do it overnight! I am glad those guys are leaving, Warren, TMG and hopefully Tiny. You couldn’t depend on them every game like you could a Tony Crocker or Cade Davis.”
Let me get this straight. When Longar Longar improves, Capel gets the credit. When Capel’s recruits are lazy, the players are to blame. Look, Capel is not a terrible coach. There are a ton of things to like about him. But the program is in a mess, of his own making, and now he’s on the clock to get it fixed.
Somebody who didn’t sign their name wrote this: “Your articles attacking Jeff Capel are bull****. Not only do you attack him with an article, you…”
That’s enough right there. Only one thing must be addressed. This fan is so passionate about Capel, there was no name signed. This guy lacks the courage of his convictions. Sign your name, or pipe down. Those are your options.
Leonard: “Were you at the Capel press conference? I just listened on radio, but maybe it looked different in person. The coach sounded thoughtful but still a bit downcast and that some of his excitement about the future was a little forced. Maybe it looked and sounded differently if you were there.”
I thought Capel came off very well. Gave a lot of encouragement. But the reality is, the near future is bleak. That’s the problem. The program basically disintegrated. You can get it back fast in basketball, but it’s certainly not automatic.
Darin: “Nice column calling Capel to task. Seems like it wasn’t that long ago I was writing emails to you about getting rid of Sampson. I’m not there with Capel yet, but like you said, he better start at least creating a perception that he is working to clean up the mess he’s got.”
The bunker mentality was a bunch of the problem. The lack of any word from the coach who’s in charge of restoring the program. The claims that it’s a legal issue, that Capel can’t talk because of NCAA protocol, well, maybe lawyers are telling OU that. Lawyers are good at keeping you out of jail. They’re not always so good at keeping your good name.
Larry: “I’m an OU fan, football first and used to be basketball second, baseball third, but now hoops has fallen off my map below softball and gymnastics. I saw OU play UTEP at the Ford Center, and it was obvious the team just didn’t care. No defense, no hustle, no nothing, and the team just plain quit on Capel as the season went on. And then of course players in droves couldn’t wait to leave, another internal investigation, with a coach packing his bags in a hurry to catch the first eastbound train out of town. And now Capel seems content to play next year’s Big 12 season with walkons. A complete disaster with the light at the end of the tunnel turning out to be the NCAA investigation team heading back to Norman.”
Some people say they didn’t believe Capel on Friday when he said he’s happy here. I don’t go that far. If a guy says he’s happy here, I take him at his word. But his team did give up the ghost last season. And now Capel has to restore a culture of hard work and effort, and he’s got to do it with a roster that can’t possibly win many games. Tough assignment.
James: “Liked your article about Capel. I have been a season ticket holder for 10 years or more. I am thinking about not renewing this year if he is still coach. This is terrible.”
I don’t recommend a boycott. That wouldn’t do anyone any good. A new coach isn’t going to improve anything. But I also can’t blame anyone for not going to games next season. The product was weak last season.
Malcolm: “Shame on you. Your article about Jeff Capel was in bad taste and worse timing. Capel is worthy. My guess also is that your inappropriate Capel bashing is at least part of the reason Marquise Carter chose Gonzaga. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back for the havoc you sponsor. Back off.”
Let’s look at this. Marquise Carter is a juco point guard. You’re saying he was headed to OU, to quarterback a team with no NCAA Tournament hopes, which would leave him with one taste of March Madness under the very best of circumstances, instead of Gonzaga, where he’s guaranteed two trips to the NCAAs. And then he was turned off by what I wrote. Please. Fans, coaches and administrators occasionally care what I write. Players never do.
Raymond: “Your articles on Capel are very fair and right on.”
You know, I’m not making it up when I say the support for Capel was minimal, and the angst was high. That’s the mood out there, and to shoot the messenger is fine. Just don’t pretend that’s going to change anything.
Laurence: “Just finished listening to Capel’s press conference, and I’m not real confident. My impression is that Capel’s completely out of touch with the fact that last season was a monumental disaster and that right now he has the least talent of any team in the Big 12. He seemed happy with the players he has and isn’t particularly worried about not having a center (when Gallon goes) or a point guard. He’s not changing the way he recruits and isn’t overly concerned about the ongoing investigation. Overall he sounds like he’s having a great time. Just my impression.”
I actually think Capel came off very well. He always does. Which is one reason why I think it was important for him to get out in front of the public.
Bob: “Jeff Capel reminds me in some ways of Melvin Watkins, the former A&M head coach, only younger. Watkins was also a head coach at a mid-major on the East Coast (North Carolina-Charlotte) prior to going to A&M. We know the outcome of that. Watkins had some talent (Antoine Wright and Acie Law); granted he only had Law for one year. There appeared to be disciplinary problems and the kids would not play defense. Then came Billy Gillispie, and he laid down the law. It was reported that things got so bad for Law that he threatened to quit, but Gillispie talked to his parents and convinced them that he saw a future in their son. It turned out to be a pretty good run for both. Fair comparison?”
I don’t see it. Capel has proven he can coach a team to greatness. Yes, he had great players last year. Two NBA guys (the Griffins) and a healthy Willie Warren. But Watkins never got a team to do anything close to that.
Doug wrote before the Capel press conference: “Though I think you’re taking advantage of Capel’s circumstances (some beyond his control) to criticize him, you’re right, he needs to speak. Have you asked him for an interview since the season ended? If he does decline without good cause, then he deserves a piling on. Is the paper doing a poll of Sooner fans wanting to Capel to stay? I would vote yes. With all the baggage that’s been building up, losing our coach would take the program further down the slope. He confirms his leadership skills and the program’s bleeding stops if next year’s team finishes above .500.”
If Capel finishes above .500 next year, he belongs in Springfield, Mass. But more to the point. Yes, I requested an interview last week. I was told he’s not talking. I didn’t explicitly say that, because I didn’t want this entire discussion to be about me. If he had gone on the Sports Animal, or talked to the Tulsa World, or whatever, fine. But he needed to talk to someone.
Steve: “Count one more on your side. Capel hadn’t earned the right for such a plum job, and I said that when they hired him four years ago. I was surprised it took so long for someone in the local media to do what you did.”
I don’t know there was to be upset about with Capel before recently. Everything seemed fine. Rebuilding year in Season 1. NCAA Tournament win in Season 2. Elite Eight in Season 3. Young but promising team in Season 4. Then the bottom fell out, on the court and off. Capel deserves criticism, but only recently, as far as I see it.
Terry: “I think it’s time you rekindle your old Pizza Hut manager article and substitute the words John Blake for Jeff Capel. I don’t understand how a program like OU’s can be in the shape it’s in, and Capel is basically going to get a pass on this thing. Very sad for a fan like me who loves OU basketball on the same level as football. Between you and me, will Capel get the job done and how long will Joe give him to get this program turned around? Just wondering how low Joe is going to let this program go before he steps in and makes a change. Capel is a bantamweight fighting in the heavyweight division.”
First off, it was Taco Bell. Not Pizza Hut. But anyway, I disagree. I think Capel can get the job done. Right now, he’s NOT getting it done, things are a mess, but that doesn’t mean he can’t regroup. Capel is no John Blake. Blake had no clue about anything. Capel has proven he can run a program. He’s not doing a very good job of it right now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t.
John: “You have raised many of the same questions that have been wondering around the back of many minds. Too bad you didn’t answer your own questions. Jeff is a young and inexperienced coach in many ways; it is quite obvious he has a lot to learn. If you go back to the off season conditioning program, many question arose with no answers, No direction, no leadership. This is where the question of leadership and direction really started. That was where he lost his players and team and the dismal season was only an extension of that mutiny. He had to have been made aware of the problems in the summer by the strength and conditioning coaches. Where was the direction and leadership? There should have been a sense of urgency to nip this in the bud, even if that included kicking someone out of the program and setting the standard of what is tolerated and what will not be tolerated under any circumstance. A message should have been delivered and it was not. At that point, the prima donnas were in total control of the team. Now when the program needs a face and a voice, he lurks in the shadows saying when it is time to make a statement he will. Well, the time has come and passed, and now Jeff has lost face. Jeff has yet to assume ownership or be total invested in his program-why is that? A change in direction should be made now, but instead he will endure another season failure and then be terminated due to booster uprising.”
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