What the Capel is going on?

Jeff Capel is definitely not absolutely going to undoubtedly take the South Carolina job.

Without question.

The Oklahoma coach's job status is still the topic of almost unending speculation across the college basketball landscape, which save LSU is currently devoid of any empty sidelines at high-profile programs.

So instead the attention turns to, let's face it, two relatively small corners of the college basketball universe: South Carolina, which was once a decent if unspectacular program, and Oklahoma, which is currently a decent if unspectacular program trying to return to glory. (OU Fans: C&F is talking about achievement, not potential. Save the hate mail with pictures of Blake Griffin posterizing someone.)

The latest round of speculation started Saturday, when CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish not only stirred the pot, but dropped what looks like a bombshell in the middle of his column.

I mean, you've heard the South Carolina rumors, right?

They started weeks ago and have intensified with time, and there isn't a person in college basketball I know who believes Capel won't be the next coach of the Gamecocks. According to sources, an offer is expected to be made within days (if not hours) of Oklahoma's season ending, and the smart money has Capel accepting the position primarily because it would get him closer to his North Carolina roots.

That selection is notable for several reasons -- the timeline for an offer, for example -- but mostly because of the assertion that everyone, essentially, thinks that Capel is simply trying to figure out which flight he's going to take to the Carolinas.

But wait. Capel has said that the location issue isn't that big an issue. And, in the article from The Oklahoman linked to above, Capel sounds more like he's trying to get contract concessions than angling for a new job.

Capel was asked Sunday how he'd handle it if South Carolina approached him with an offer.

"Hopefully it doesn't get to that," Capel said in an interview that aired on KWTV-9 Sunday night. "Hopefully we can work something out here at Oklahoma. This is where I want to be."

So does "working something out" entail a better contract?

"Sure," he said with a laugh. "Yeah."

Capel is currently among the lowest-paid coaches in the Big 12 Conference and makes $50,000 per year less than OU women's coach Sherri Coale. ...

Of course, if the variety of reports out of South Carolina are accurate, the Gamecocks are willing to pay as much as $1.5 million for their next hoops coach -- exactly twice what Capel makes now. ...

But doubling the salary of a coach who is 39-27 in two seasons, as Capel is, might seem a little drastic. Yet Castiglione has a track record for working to keep his coaches happy for the long-term.

Well, it does seem like Capel's just looking for an extension. Another example of the Gamecocks getting a would-be new coach a raise.

Hint: Show me the money.

What's that The State says?

According to a source, Capel has made at least one third-party inquiry on specifics about the South Carolina job.

USC athletics director Eric Hyman has declined to address specific candidates to replace Dave Odom, who is retiring. Through spokesman Steve Fink, Hyman said he had "no reaction" to a Saturday report by CBSsports.com that Capel would be offered the USC job after Oklahoma's season was over.

The smart money here would be on the "third-party inquiry" coming in the form of Capel's agent. It gives Capel plausible deniability and is exactly the kind of thing a proactive agent would do if he's trying to get a client a better contract.

Meanwhile, The Norman Transcript makes a point I've seen made more than once: Fan support isn't very good for the basketball program. Not that it's great at South Carolina, but if you think the football-basketball split is bad in Columbia, think about what it must be like in Norman.

Meanwhile, C&F's appraisal of the mood in Oklahoma is "slightly nervous." Not RED ALERT! nervous, but nervous enough that some message board posters (those founts of reliable information) are already beginning to ask who Oklahoma should go after next if Capel leaves.

And this from C&F's SBN colleagues at Crimson and Cream Machine:

Anyone who doesn't think South Carolina is going to come hard after Capel with lots of money is foolish and anyone who feels that Capel will stay in Norman just because this is Oklahoma is just stubborn.

Capel made $750,000 this last year at Oklahoma and South Carolina's offer could come in around twice that much. Castiglione's offer not only needs to be quick but it also needs to be significant. I don't necessarily think that he needs to bring $1.5 million to the table but he does need to bump Capel up from being one of the lowest paid coaches in the conference. ...

If OU comes out in the near future and offers Capel a contract extension with a significant raise and an annuity clause for longevity then the South Carolina talk will fade away quickly.

While our basketball tradition historically is not nearly as bad as CCM makes it out to be, the Frank McGuire days are largely forgotten among non-USC fans, and Oklahoma has recently been the better team.

C&F would say that, with even money, Oklahoma easily wins out. Obviously, the farther down the scale the Sooners' offer falls, the more the balance tips toward South Carolina. Right now, C&F puts the odds at 60-40 for Capel to stay at Oklahoma.

That could change quickly, and we should know soon enough. If the week ends without either a concrete offer or credible rumors of an inevitable press conference, it will time to look elsewhere.

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