“Good” will cut it in just about any profession, just not Capel’s. Good coaches get fired every season and some in this state believe now is the time for a change in leadership of the Oklahoma program.
Capel’s detractors have a case. The Sooners finished the season last night with a 20-point loss to Texas and an overall record of 14-18. For the first time in 46 years, OU has posted back to back losing seasons.
Capel’s squad will also miss the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year. The Sooners haven’t been left out of the dance two years in a row since 1994.
There was a brutal string of nine straight losses at the end of last season. At one point this year, OU dropped eight in a row and wound up losing nine of its last eleven.
The Sooners have fallen close to the cellar in the Big 12 conference. Only Iowa State finished lower than OU in the standings, and ten of the Sooners conference losses were by a margin of ten points or more. It isn’t just that Capel’s team was losing, it’s that his team wasn’t even consistently competitive. It looks worse for OU when you look at recent history against the top teams in the conference. The Sooners have now dropped four in a row to Texas, four in a row to Texas A&M, and six straight to Kansas.
Critics also love to point out Capel’s recruiting history. Willie Warren, Tommy Mason-Griffin, and Tiny Gallon were all McDonald’s All-Americans and were supposed to be the next wave of Sooner superstars. They were going to pick up the slack after the departure of Blake Griffin, and continue to keep the program in a position of prominence. Warren played two seasons and bolted to the NBA. Mason-Griffin skipped town after only a year and was quoted in the Houston Chronicle saying, “School work was just not in my comfort zone.” Gallon also left Norman after his freshman season amidst allegations that he and his mother received $3,000 from a financial adviser. OU assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro was rumored to be connected to the adviser and the NCAA launched an investigation into Taliaferro’s actions.
The famous motto of Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis is somewhat ironic considering the Raiders do everything but win. However, those three little words perfectly describe how almost every American sports fan feels about his or her team.
I am a fan just like you and frankly, I’m sick and tired of the expectations that are placed on me. I don’t need to hear another coach, player, owner, executive, or media member call me out for not being supportive. Here’s how this works: You (the team) create a successful product, and then I show up. I’m not going to show up if there’s nothing in it for me. Selfish? You betcha. Wrong? Nope.
There’s no way athletic directors Joe Castiglione and Mike Holder enjoy seeing thousands of empty seats at Lloyd Noble and Gallagher-Iba, but the fan is the last person I’m going to blame for those arenas looking no better than junior high gyms. Nobody is expecting Oklahoma to turn into a basketball crazed state anytime soon. That being said, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the Sooners and Cowboys to make the NCAA tournament four out of every five seasons. These are schools with a decent amount of basketball tradition. They are big-time universities with big bucks coming from big boosters trying to get into a tournament that’s anything but exclusive. If Jeff Capel and Travis Ford can’t give me something to look forward to, then why should I pay through the nose to watch a team hoping to sneak into the NIT?
Good economy or down economy, fan dollars are stretched thin. If I have to pick and choose carefully, why am I going to pick a loser? Some claim the Thunder is taking dollars away from the college basketball teams in this state. I think that’s right, but it’s not because of over saturation in the market. One team is on the rise and sells out; the other teams flounder around .500 and hear crickets during home games. Fans will go see a winning product, period.