"I’m a big believer that you get the guys you’re supposed to get,” Capel said. "It worked out best for everyone.”
But that was hard to see three years ago. When Capel took the OU job, three of Sampson’s five recruits sought release from their letters of intent. The Sooners acquiesced, figuring they would lose upon NCAA appeal anyway.
Scottie Reynolds went to Villanova, Jeremy Mayfield to Alabama-Birmingham and James to Texas. Only James’ defection rankled Capel.
Capel admittedly begged James to stay a Sooner. Capel says his wife, Kanika, was listening to his side of the phone conversation and cried over the humiliation.
Worse yet, Capel discovered that at one point, James had handed the phone to a male relative, who masqueraded as James while Capel pleaded.
Capel blames the begging on himself. He blames the deception on James.
"I didn’t like the way some things went down,” Capel said.
But Capel’s anger has passed. He has matured, which is no small feat for a coach. He better understands the emotions of James, Reynolds and Mayfield.
"I think they felt betrayed,” Capel said, referring to the coaching change after Sampson went to Indiana. "When that happens, maybe you feel like just taking care of yourself.”
So bygones are bygones. All’s well that progresses well. Capel can again say the name, "Damion James.”
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.