Brent Venables is returning to the Oklahoma football program after spending 10 seasons as the defensive coordinator for Clemson.
Venables was co-defensive coordinator and defensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 2004-2011 and he was on Bob Stoops coaching staff at OU from 1999 until departing to take the job at Clemson prior to the 2012 season.
The Sooner’s coaching search is over, and they have found their guy. Venables has finalized a deal to become the 23rd head football coach for the University of Oklahoma.
Most sooner fans remember the energy, enthusiasm, and spirit that Brent Venables brought through the years at Oklahoma, now we get to relive those years. Venables was welcomed to Norman with a herd of Sooner fans who were at Max Westheimer Airport eager to welcome him back to Sooner country.
The 50-year-old defensive guru makes his return to Oklahoma, where he spent seven seasons as a defensive coordinator under Stoops. After leaving Oklahoma, Venables became the defensive coordinator for Clemson, where he managed a top-tier defensive unit every year, just like what he did at OU.
Venables had great seasons at Oklahoma, but he wrote a different script at Clemson. He and head coach Dabo Swinney built a powerhouse program that was rated at or near the top in practically every major defensive statistical category and a perennial top contender for the national championship.
Venables brings a winning attitude and toughness that the Sooners have been lacking for the better part of the past decade. His hiring is a popular pick for the Sooners, especially given that Venables has many ties to the Oklahoma program and has stayed close friends with OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. When Venables left for Clemson, it was very emotional for the two close friends, but now they get to reunite in Norman.
First things first
One of the first tasks for the new OU head coach: Add some pieces to the coaching staff. With the early national signing period for the 2022 recruiting class just nine days away. That will become another immediate priority, but he has his former head coach to help out in that arena, which is a big plus that most new head coaches don’t have under these circumstances.
The Sooners lose defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, receivers coach Dennis Simmons, Clarke Stround, director of football operations and director of Sports Performance Bennie Wylie to USC. It’s a huge task for Venables, who will make his first appearance as a head coach.
“To have the opportunity. The first time I get to lead a program and it’s Oklahoma? Are you kidding me? It doesn’t get any better than this. It really doesn’t.” Venables said to reporters and the assembled crowd upon his arrival in Norman Sunday night.
Its extremely important for Venables to find an offensive coordinator, who can develop and re-energize an offensive unit for Oklahoma. That will also be an important consideration in retaining starting quarterback Caleb Williams, who took over the starting role from Spencer Rattler in midseason and quickly showed why he was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2021 national class.
An offensive coordinator, who has been the leading candidate for the job is Jeff Lebby, who has been the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss for the last two seasons and has led an explosive charge for the Rebels.
The Rebels ranked fourth in the country in total offense this season, putting up 506 yards per game. They were also an 18th-ranked scoring offense, averaging 35.9 points per game. It’s safe to say, Lebby is Venable’s main option for the offensive coordinator job. Lebby was also a student assistant at Oklahoma from 2002-2006.
There was a zoom meeting that took place between the staff and players. The players seemed to enjoy seeing Brent Venables in an Oklahoma Sooners hat. Many players reacted to seeing their new head coach, and it was very pleasant sight to see.
Retaining QB Caleb Williams will be a prime internal focus
The main question surrounds the quarterback Williams. Williams has been s prime topic this past week with a handful of his playmakers announcing that they are entering the transfer portal. If Williams gets an offensive coordinator who he feels a fit with and sees his future at Oklahoma, it will be the icing on the cake for Sooner fans.
Williams seems to enjoy the new hire of Brent Venables, based on retweets about Venables, and also put “Oklahoma Football” back in his bio. Time will tell for the early Sooner legend that everyone enjoyed watching through the 2021 season.
The Sooners draw No. 14 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 at 8:15 pm. As of now, Oklahoma comes in as a four-point favorite, which may adjust later on. It seems fitting that Bob Stoop’s first game back is against Oregon, where there was controversy over an onside kick that took place in 2006.
The bottom line is: The Sooners will be in excellent hands with Brent Venables, who will be the first coach that leads Oklahoma to the SEC.