Originally Published: Mar 14, 2011 12:55 PM CDT
Joe Castiglione did not want to fire Jeff Capel. Castilglione is a good man. Moreover, he handpicked Capel. He had no doubt Capel would do two things that would lead to a third.
Castiglione has a track record of hiring coaches who win. He felt confident Capel would win; a Top 10 program under Billy Tubbs and Kelvin Sampson. A program which produced great playersBlake Griffin being the latest.
The second thing Castiglione felt secure about was that Capel would put people in the seats. His predecessors had done it. Mostly by winning. In believing Capel would win, Castiglione believed Capel would put fans in the seat.
Thirdly, he believed strongly in Jeff Capel the person. The man who carried himself with dignity; a man who had a history of doing things right; a man whose wife was every bit as impressive as her husbanda law degree to boot. But Castiglione was wrong again.
As in baseball, the third strike ended up being the one that sent Capel packing. Castiglione the ump was wrong on the mandate from both his office and the ever-so-respected president of the school, Dr. David Boren. Do not cheat. Do not cheat. No more headlines with OU and NCAA linked together.
We were not surprised by the firing. In fact last night on the Blitz, I said my gut feeling was that Capel would be pink-slipped. Even pegged it as only a 33 percent chance that he'd return. My thinking went beyond the strikeout issues noted. The gut feeling was that since the AD had basically been in hiding, the no-comment stance meant Capel was gone.
Facts must hurt to Capel, a coach who will likely rebound in a few years and succeed at a different school. OU finished 13-18 and 14-18 the past two years. NCAA trips with Blake Griffin in Capel's first two years but no postseason money coming in the past two.
Fan fell off the bandwagon quickly. They had no interest in following players brought in suspiciouslyTiny Gallon and Tommie-Mason Griffin. They had no interest in seeing those players bicker. They had no interest in seeing Willie Warrenmaking it four prep All-Americans Capel had hauled inwhine and loaf and not play anywhere near how he'd played during the Elite 8 run the season before. Bitching, loafing and losing are not permitted by fans at Oklahoma. Capel was headed south with reckless abandon.
The absolute dealbuster for Joe C and David B, was when the NCAA nailed Capel. The program is under investigation because of reported improper payments to Gallon, who out of nowhere decided to leave the program along with TMGriffin after their disastrous freshman seasons.
In the end Castiglione was left with two options. Retain a coach that had failed and let him down on his principal responsibilities. Retain a coach who has a bare cupboard with little hope of a quick turnaround.
Or cut his losses now. Swallow his pride in the best interest of the program.
Castiglione did his job. Capel didn't. Jeff Capel was fired because he committed unpardonable sins.