NORMAN — OU again is good in basketball, really good, which means hand-wringing returns to Soonerville. How will Oklahoma ever keep its coach?
Rest easy. There’s no reason to worry that Jeff Capel might jump ship. Primarily because worry doesn’t help. If Capel goes, he goes. But history tells us optimism should trump anxiety in the Capel caper. Sooner basketball is a good job. A very good job. "You get here, you realize how good of a job it is,” Capel said. Here’s how good is the job. The two guys who held it right before Capel, Billy Tubbs and Kelvin Sampson, stayed on duty 14 and 12 years. That’s remarkable stability in the volatile world of collegiate athletics. Tubbs and Sampson gave headhunters every reason to want to entice them away. Yet they stayed, season after season after season. If Duke comes calling, Capel will go. A few other schools, same thing. But South Carolina, a rumor last year? Georgia, a rumor this year? That’s career roulette, and Capel is too smart to go jeopardizing his meteoric rise in the profession. OU has 32 all-time NCAA Tournament wins, which puts it just behind the likes of Maryland (36), Texas (35) and Marquette (34). That’s not shabby company. Here’s even better company: The Sooners have been to Final Fours under three coaches: Bruce Drake, Tubbs and Sampson. If the second-ranked Sooners can make it this year, OU would join North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Kentucky, Ohio State and Arkansas as the only schools to reach Final Fours under at least four coaches. "Oklahoma basketball has certainly shown it can sustain excellence,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. Capel said he didn’t appreciate OU’s basketball history until after he took the job but now believes the program has no ceiling: "When you’re in a league like we’re in, when you have the resources like we have, an athletic director and athletic department like we have, I don’t see why there should be limits.” The job isn’t perfect.