“We are excited to announce Jeff Capel as our head men’s basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh,” said Lyke. “Coach Capel is a high-energy leader committed to being a part of our university and the city of Pittsburgh. He has a tremendous basketball pedigree and a strong track record of recruiting, developing and mentoring high-quality student-athletes.
His relentless work ethic, passion for the game and clear vision of how to build a program capable of competing at the highest levels in the ACC and on the national stage are impressive. I look forward to our student-athletes, fans, donors and the Oakland Zoo getting to know Coach Capel and his family and watching this program flourish under his direction.”
My first reaction was that I hoped he wasn’t hard over on the use of Roman numerals after his name because I ain’t doing it.
My second reaction was that it was a good hire – and I believe better than most Pitt BB fans thought it would be. He comes from a strong coaching line as his father, Jeff Capel II (couldn’t just use Jr?) was a BB HC also. Capel has been a HC at two different schools – Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Oklahoma. His stint at Oklahoma was tinged a bit due to one of his assistant coaches, Oronde Taliferro, took part in financial improprieties with a player and an investment firm.
But by all accounts I can find that was done and kept to a lower level and was done without the direct knowledge of Capel. But the NCAA did accept OU’s request that they be placed on probation and have wins vacated which the NCAA agreed to thus if you look at Capel’s won/loss record it is heavily impacted by those penalties.
You all know I’m a stickler for ethical leadership and am pretty adamant about it. Even with my thoughts of Pat Narduzzi not being that great as an actual X&Os football coach I applaud him for his off-field decision making in term of discipline awarded in player personnel cases. It is part and parcel of leadership of student/athletes and should be given highest priority from the Chancellor down to the equipment managers.
So this passes my litmus test for a Pitt hire. But folks – this really is the way Pitt does things…always with an eye toward proper actions. There was never a doubt in my mind that Pitt would not hire Sean Miller…not one.
There were a ton of rumors and false leads – and just pure unadulterated speculations – floating around since Pitt fired Kevin Stallings on March 8th. Some were just plain funny and some were, in my opinion, just flat-out ridiculous.
Especially the oft-repeated thought that a group of donors (or “Boosters” as they are now called) would pony up multiple millions of dollars to hire the coach of Arizona – ex-Pitt player Sean Miller who is currently under FBI investigation. The fact that Miller made $5.2M in salary and bonus money in 2017 and that Pitt would almost surely have to replicate that never really occurred to the more rabid believers.
They were convinced mythical donors were going to ante up the difference between $3M (which is I think what we’ll pay Capel) and that approx. $5.2M for a five-year contract. That extra $11M wasn’t ever going to happen friends and shame on people for believing those tweets and cock & bull message board items that Pitt has donors with pockets that deep to spend on …basketball.
Really – basketball? Look, the bald truth is that Pitt is and always will be a football school first and foremost. If there were $11M floating around out there you’d see big donations to that side of athletics but that doesn’t happen. The biggest football donation in many years was the Guttman family’s $2M donation to the Football Championship Fund and that was heavily earmarked to the academic and life skills side of the programs.
Time to ratchet back the beliefs that Pitt has any kind of deep pocket donors on the athletic department if they aren’t building facilities like the Cost Center and the Duratz Athletic Complex on the Southside. That and academic donations can run very large – but Pitt’s whale donors are not sports minded like some other universities are.
If there were big-ass donations to be used for Pitt sports it would have been used on the football side.
I’ll leave the nuts and bolts of this BB hire up to you readers to discuss. You follow it more than I do and you know more about college BB than I do – I’m a Pitt football fan really – but I will say this. Capel looks like an excellent hire and he’s really gotten the best of both worlds in a way. Expectations of the BB team next season will be lower than they have been in the past so he really has nowhere to go but up. They will be a bit higher with Capel than had we hired some lower level Asst Coach I’m sure – but most realistic Pitt fans will realize there are a couple of tough years ahead regardless.
That is a real freedom for a guy in his first year at a new job.
Then he has a chance to succeed as a HC in the best BB conference with a ACC program and after that he can pretty much write his own ticket – whether that ticket is staying at Pitt or bumping over (or up) elsewhere. Either way he’s and Pitt should both be very happy things worked out the way they did.
Here is a deeper look at how Capel dealt with his players in film room coaching:
and for some football:
….and the rest of the Practice #8 videos.