HOO Will Be Virginia's Next Basketball Coach: Jeff Capel?

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HOO Will Be Virginia's Next Basketball Coach: Jeff Capel?
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The next candidate in our series is none other than Oklahoma Sooners head coach Jeff Capel.

Capel has impressed many around the country.  The Sooners took a bit of a risk when they hired Capel after Kelvin Sampson jumped ship for his infamous stint at Indiana.

Capel had brought success to VCU, gaining them an NCAA tournament bid in 2004 before losing in the final minute to Wake Forest in the first round.

Of course, little did we know at the time, Capel had brought Eric Maynor into the fold before he left and that budding freshman would go on to be the greatest VCU player ever.

Well, Capel has done it again by bringing in the behemoth Blake Griffin and giving the Oklahoma Sooners a 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.

Obviously, Capel has a lot to offer a team like Virginia and that has made him a rumored candidate.

Capel has proven his ability to win in a power conference.  So will he be doing that in an orange and blue tie?

 

WHY CAPEL WILL COME TO VIRGINIA

Capel is, to the core, an ACC guy. 

Capel was born and raised in the region and went on to play at Duke University where he is best remembered for hitting a dramatic half-court shot in overtime against the North Carolina Tar Heels to extend the instant classic.

His wife is from Virginia as is his brother and former Tar Heel Jason.  A homecoming would make sense for Capel, especially if he wants to bank in on his recent success.

Despite leading Oklahoma to its best season in recent memory he is currently doing it on a contract of around $1.2 million dollars a year.

Sure, Oklahoma would probably be willing to bump it up but how much? 

Even if they doubled his annual salary, it is still less than the numbers Virginia seems to be willing to offer to fellow candidate Tubby Smith.

Money does talk in sports, just ask Bob Huggins.  If Oklahoma has to bust the bank to keep Bob Stoops around, do they have enough to keep both hot commodities?

If Capel wanted to leave Oklahoma, this might actually be the perfect time to do it.

Blake Griffin will be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft (if he has any sense and declares early) and his brother is graduating.  If ever he wanted to bank in on his new found genius status, this would be the moment. 

Sure, Capel has a great recruiting class coming in along with freshman sensation Willie Warren but it’s only a matter of time before Kansas grows up and reclaims dominance of the Big XII.

Texas is still going to be around as a Top 25 program and Missouri appears to be an up and coming team for now and in the future.

It may be hard to win in the ACC as well but Virginia has tremendous facilities as well as aging legends like Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. 

With Capel being only 34 years old, he might see the opportunity to build a legacy at Virginia in the most prestigious conference of them all. 

His penchant of recruiting in the area combined with the allure of the John Paul Jones Arena could be a deadly combination in both the short and long term.

WHY CAPEL WON’T COME TO UVA

Sure Virginia is a beautiful school but Capel has a great gig where he is.

Capel has established a great program at Oklahoma and appears to be establishing it as a team that can compete at the top of the Big XII year in and year out.

Capel may likely be losing the Griffin brothers but he still has Willie Warren, arguably the most underrated freshman around.

Warren averaged 14.7 PPG and had over 100 assists on the season.  His assist/turnover ratio will only get better as he matures.

He also has Keith Gallon, aka Blake Griffin Jr., coming to Norman next year.  Gallon is one of the top centers, ranked 4th in the country by ESPN and 14th overall. 

Why does Capel need to go to Virginia when he can recruit at Oak Hill Academy from a different time zone?

Besides, as successful as he is, Capel will never have to deal with the heavy expectations laid upon Bob Stoops and the football program.

Capel likes playing at a football school—it gives him job security.  Ask Billy Donovan—does he mind playing second fiddle to Urban Meyer?

Capel may be from the Virginia area, and he may one day return there, but he owes something to the Sooners who picked him up when he was still young and unproven. 

It’s not like Capel went to Virginia, and even if he was not fully embraced by the Cameron Crazies how desperate is he to face Coach K year in and year out?

Capel is a tremendous recruiter and Oklahoma would be foolish to give him up without a fight.  Both of these schools realize that Capel is the kind of coach that can build a program and keep it running for a long time.

Those coaches are rare and that is why his name is on the short list.  It’s also why he is not going anywhere.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Jeff Capel has proven to everyone that he can get the job done.  Virginia has a new arena and they need a new face to represent the new era. 

Sylven Landesberg may not be Blake Griffin but the Cavaliers do have some pieces.  Considering that Capel was able to get great players to come to VCU when he was there, imagine how successful he could be at a big time program in the area.

It would not be easy facing off against Duke, UNC and the like, but maybe he wants the challenge.

As much as Virginia loves its football, its history points to it being a basketball school.  The Cavaliers have two Final Fours to its credit and two NIT championships (back when that actually meant something). 

Capel has the potential to become the top name at Virginia and show off his skills as a coach to all the teams that saw his skills as a player.

Will it happen?

If it does, it will come at a price.  Capel has done such a good job at Oklahoma; it would take a major pay raise for him to just walk away.

However, I do think it is possible.  If Oklahoma gets bounced early the Sooners may not be willing to go to the nearly 3 million dollars that Virginia seems ready to offer.

The Cavaliers want to make a splash and although Capel does not have the same name recognition of Tubby Smith he may be the best answer to turning around a program that can only claim two NCAA tournament appearances this century.

Will money talk?

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