WSB says Tech wants Capel, who might replace Coach K at Duke

Jeff Capel, shown coaching against Tech. Coach K was indisposed. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jeff Capel working against Tech. Coach K was indisposed that night. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Zach Klein of WSB-TV is reporting that Duke assistant Jeff Capel has emerged as Georgia Tech’s leading candidate to replace the fired Brian Gregory. I don’t doubt that Mike Bobinski, the Tech athletic director, would want to meet with Capel, who’s again a Hot Guy after being fired by Oklahoma in 2011. I do wonder if the interest is mutual.

In speaking over the weekend with writers who cover Duke and the ACC, the belief is that Capel is also the leading candidate to replace Mike Krzyzewski whenever Coach K decides to retire, which can’t be too far away. He’s 69.

The who-follows-K guessing game has been ongoing for more than decade; previous heirs apparent have included Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, all of whom have left for head-coaching jobs elsewhere, none of whom has met with unbridled success. Dawkins just got fired by Stanford and hired by UCF. Collins is 49-48 in three seasons at Northwestern, which is a tough job. Wojo is 32-31 in two seasons at Marquette, which is a good job. Amaker has done well at Harvard, but he was fired by Michigan after six seasons, none of which culminated in an NCAA tournament appearance.

Capel is the latest heir apparent because he returned to Duke’s bench in 2011 after getting canned by Oklahoma. (His first head-coaching job had been at VCU, where he teed up the program for successor Anthony Grant, whose Rams beat Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament.) Capel presided over a run to the Elite Eight in 2009 — the Sooners were powered by Blake Griffin– but Griffin left to become the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and everything cratered.

Oklahoma was 13-18 — the program’s first losing season since 1981 — and 14-18 the next two years. It  forfeited the 13 wins from 2009-2010 due to the use of an ineligible player. (Capel wasn’t implicated in the NCAA investigation.)

When the Sooners parted with Capel, Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman wrote: “It worked until it didn’t. Until Capel let the program hit quicksand with player defections and NCAA rule violations. There is no reason Capel should be anything but an aberration. This program has been too good too long to stay down.”

(Update: Oklahoma hired Lon Kruger. It’s bound for the Final Four.)

Back at Duke, Capel has been the driving force behind the Blue Devils’ ramped-up recruiting. Duke won the 2015 NCAA title with one-and-dones Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. The No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA draft was Jabari Parker, another Duke one-and-done. The No. 1 pick this June could be Brandon Ingram, yet another.

Arizona State tried to hire Capel last spring, but he removed his name from consideration. (The Sun Devils turned to Bobby Hurley, yet another Dookie.) As Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote, Krzyzewski went out of his way to gush over Capel, calling his decision to stay in Durham “a huge plus for our program and for me personally. Jeff was a superstar this year.”

As noted in this space, I believe Tech can again rise to being a Tier 2 job in the ACC, alongside Virginia and Notre Dame and North Carolina State. It cannot, however, hope to rival Duke. If there’s a real chance Capel will succeed Krzyzewski, he’s going nowhere. But there’s no succession plan in place, for the simple reason nobody wants the greatest coach since Wooden to leave until he’s good and ready.

Capel is 41, which means he could wait a while but not forever. If such an assurance — “You’re the man after the man” — isn’t forthcoming from Duke, especially with another ACC job his for the presumed taking, he might be persuaded to leave. And yes, he’d be a clear upgrade over Gregory.

Oh, and one thing more: ACC folks were amazed if not aghast over Pitt’s hiring of Kevin Stallings, who might well have gotten fired at Vanderbilt, to replace Jamie Dixon. Hiring a guy away from the SEC isn’t a move often made by an ACC program, especially one that just made the NCAA field. (Though N.C. State did hire Mark Gottfried, who’d been at Alabama but was out of coaching when Debbie Yow called.)

My feeling is that Stallings was among the better pure coaches in the SEC, which has run low on pure coaches. But Vandy had hit a wall, making the NCAA tournament only once in the past four seasons, and then only as a First Four participant this March. Stallings’ last Vanderbilt team was one of his more talented, but it never clicked.

Seventeen years is a long time to be coaching anywhere, and Stallings had gone past the point of diminishing returns in Nashville. But I’m not sure he’s the answer in Pittsburgh.

Reader Comments 0

18 comments
garryb95
garryb95

Same a$$ you always were when you wore your stupid looking duster to games in the 80's when Tech was top tier ACC. I was always excited to see what someone who spent 15 minutes at the game would write. Still not disappointing us mbrad. Keeping acting like you crap that you don't.

Peachs
Peachs

Capel is a lot like Hewitt, who was not especial good at PR, just supposedly good at recruiting.  


A lot of Duke's good recruiting has been at the expense of UNC, which has been off the road fixing a problem with the NCAA for five years, giving Duke clear passage. 


Tech needs to get someone to do what San Diego State has done, bring some excitement to that arena.  You not only need a doctor for the house, you need a promoter with an eye at making a market for the product. Put the college kids in the seats, even if you have to give them free tickets, fill the joint up. That would be  the first thing, and fill it up with gold and white, not red, blue or purple. You bring in a recruit and he looks at the other school recruiting him, like Louisville, having more support than we do in our own place?  And then go after the press and make them excited they have big time basketball in our city. 

Nobodysshowmonkey
Nobodysshowmonkey

I love what Mike Brey is doing with Notre Dame basketball. Mike Brey will be the next Duke basketball coach, take it to the bank

Caius
Caius

I would expect Coach K to give Capel the thumbs up on the GT job unless he is planning to leave in a year or so and Capel is his pick.  Like someone below, I would expect Brey to leave ND for Duke when K retires.


DoubleSubject
DoubleSubject

Wait a minute, Mark. Tech can and should hope to rival Duke or any other team. I continue to hope that our day will come. Never, never give up hope!

Peachs
Peachs

@DoubleSubject the truth is they should rival Duke and when K and Cremins were competing they did. Atlanta should draw players, and will if done right. 

nick1234
nick1234

Capel will be able to recruit Atlanta, he will, however, leave when Coach K retires. I still don't understand why Ron Hunter is not getting more consideration. 

Buzzdawgs
Buzzdawgs

Next Duke coach is Mike Brey. Capel will get the signal and go to GT.

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

ACC coaching matters are a little out of your league Bradley.

Stick with your weaker SEC conference and thrive. Where was

the SEC at the big dance? Why they never even got dressed up.. 

Peachs
Peachs

You have teams like Virginia who seem to get it, in hiring basketball coaches, and then there is Tech, who made one right move in its basketball history, Bobby. 


Sure would be nice to see some tough NY point guards again...



DrTruth
DrTruth

Oklahoma bought Capel out for $1.75 Million when they FIRED him.....Isn't this why we are now paying TWO former HCs?


GT BB is so screwed....again.  


FIRED!  He was freakin FIRED!


Can't we go after someone who is a SUCCESSFUL HC??

Erik Meadows
Erik Meadows

Andrew Wiggins was the #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, not Jabari Parker.