What We Learned From Castiglione's Presser

NORMAN, Okla. -- Athletic director Joe Castiglione announced Monday that he had released head basketball coach Jeff Capel from his contract, and he addressed that by speaking to the media afterwards, which brings us to several conclusions.

1. The program was simply ready for a change, in Castiglione's mind--He basically said enough is enough by firing Capel. With 13-18 and 14-18 years in 2009-10 and 2010-11, respectively, the Sooners had back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1967. And they also missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94. That is unacceptable for such a prideful program like OU, and because of that, he had to cut the cord.

"This was a decision that I reached after the season when I had an opportunity to reflect on Jeff's tenure and the direction of our program. The only way to chart the best direction for our program is to consider it in its entirety, and that's what I did. This did not boil down to one or two points, but instead it was the outcome of a very thorough and detailed review. I concluded that it would best to chart a new direction for our program."

2. Castiglione is open to any and all options for a new coach that will lead OU in the right direction--If there are any parameters on the type of candidate he's looking for, Castiglione wouldn't let the media into them. He was very adamant in the fact that the Sooners will just simply get the right guy for the job, plain and simple. That's the key in this search.

"That's always the right question to ask. Obviously, there's a great deal of evidence in the wide range of coaching candidates that are out there. Again, the easiest way to say it is the best fit for the University of Oklahoma, the person that best represents our values and has the skill set to lead this program and its pursuit of championships."

3. There is no specific timetable to find a replacement--The program is in such shambles right now that the most important thing is OU finds the person that can right this ship, not that it finds that individual immediately. And that's what Castiglione implied in his press conference. He won't rush around and be careless with this decision, given how crucial it is.

"We will conduct a diligent and detailed search, find the best person and the best fit for our program."

4. Keeping the current players here is a major concern--No one's saying Steven Pledger or Andrew Fitzgerald or Tyler Neal or any other player on the team is leaving. But that has to be something that's considered. A coaching change is a serious situation, and Castiglione voiced his concern of the importance of maintaining the foundation with the current players, which makes it most imperative to convince any that would possibly consider a transfer to stay put.

"Yes, we will communicate with them, you know, as best we can and encourage them to stay committed to our program, stay committed to their responsibilities for those student athletes that are continuing forward with us. We'll let them know at a time when we're ready to announce the hire and as I always have done, I get the new coach in front of our team before they make any kind of public appearance, including meeting with the media, so that would be the plan."

5. Dropping attendance was key, but lack of success was paramount--Granted the two run hand in hand, but the fact of the matter is Capel could have survived if his team was making the NCAA Tournament every year with poor attendance. If he wasn't that popular of a coach and still took his team to the tournament, things would have been much different here. But that wasn't the case. After making the Elite Eight, it sharply went downhill, and there's no reason to believe in the next year or so it would be different under Capel. A lack of success was supreme for the reason Castiglione made the decision he did.

"Well, it's like everybody else, we had higher hopes, you know, for our program to build off that momentum. You know, we understand how sports can be. You know, the departure of people with great talent and experience and the new student athletes that are coming in to take over and grow and time that's necessary for them to grow, but the program still continues on and moves momentum forward, and unfortunately that didn't occur."

6. OU will win again, soon--Not saying I agree or disagree 100 percent with the timing of his decision or even the fact that he made it altogether, but I certainly believe this shows OU will win again with Castiglione at the helm of figuring out who's most suitable for this job. He's confident and is sending a message that losing is not acceptable for the Crimson and Cream. Losing won't be long term.

"The University of Oklahoma is special. And as you know, you cover it day-to-day, people that follow our program and follow our university around the United States, around the world, know this is a very special place. It has wonderful tradition, as I mentioned in my opening statement. We have state of the art facilities. We're committed to excellence in all that we do, and it's a place where people can work and feel like they can pursue outstanding success in a sport, whichever you want to call it, from a student athlete's stand point, the way you compete or coaching, the way that you lead and pursue championships, so absolutely believe that this is an attractive program, and we're committed to being successful going forward just as we have been all through this time."

Stick right here with Sooners Illustrated for the latest on the coaching search.

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