Five Key Things Brent Venables had to say at Big 12 Media Days

Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables is interviewed during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables is interviewed during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Brent Venables knows his way around the Big 12 Conference, and the Oklahoma Sooners. Overall, this will be Venable’s 14th season as a member of the Oklahoma football staff. He is now the Sooner’s newest head man but brought a sense of poise and experience to Big 12 Media Days on Thursday in Arlington, Texas.

These are the five key things Venables had to say as he addressed reporters:

The Oklahoma Roster is Experienced

Venables opened up the press conference with some statistics.  He explained that while there are some new faces in Norman, many of the transfers that have been brought in have plenty of experience on the gridiron at the collegiate level.  Roughly 50 percent of the Oklahoma roster is upperclassmen. Experience matters when it comes to winning at the biggest stage, and with Oklahoma having a 71 percent blue chip rate (good for fourth in the nation) the Sooners are talented enough to make it to the College Football Playoff to compete for a national championship. The experience is a big piece.

"“I know a lot will be and has been made of how much we lost on both sides of the ball from a production standpoint,” Venables said. “(Incoming transfer) Jeffery Johnson has 44 career starts; Dillon Gabriel, 35 career starts; Trey Morrison, 44 career starts; Kyle Ergenbright, 34 career starts; McKade Mettauer, 28; Jonah Laulu, 18; and our tight end, Daniel Parker, 25 career starts.“I’ve got six back on offense. We’ve got six back on defense. Got punter Michael Turk and our punt returner Marvin Mims (returning), and Eric Gray is our kick returner coming back. And then just breaking down the roster another step further, it’s virtually 50 percent of our roster is juniors and seniors, 50 percent are freshman and sophomores. We’ll have 13 graduates, as well, as we kick off the 2022 season.”"

Why Brent Venables Took the Oklahoma Job

Brent Venables has been a candidate for dozens of jobs and has had opportunities to be a head coach many years prior to now. He has been highly coveted because of his extensive experience as an assistant and as one of the top defensive coordinators in college football.  Oklahoma was finally a job good enough for Brent to feel right to make the move.

"“I learned a long time ago from Bill Snyder, the grass isn’t greener, and I always believed that. He said it, and I believed it. I wrote it down, and that was in my Coaching Bible 101,” Venables explained,“Oklahoma has been near and dear to my heart. I left in a very emotional state when I left Kansas State to come to Oklahoma, but my last words to Coach Snyder, as I was still learning and I had a ton of growth ahead of me, and as I told Coach Snyder, I wanted an opportunity to coach at a place like Oklahoma. It’s a special place. It’s the winningest program in the modern era, the most championships, conference championships in the history of college football with 50, the only program since 2000 that has not had a losing season in the Power Five.“So, winning is very hard. Being consistently at the top of your game is even harder. Oklahoma has exemplified that both on the field and — probably for me and my peace in making the decision — off the field from a leadership standpoint, from an alignment standpoint.”"

The Standard

Venables touched on Oklahoma’s success and consistency through the years. He was complimentary of his predecessors Lincoln Riley and Bob Stoops. When asked about the standard and how to get Oklahoma back to expectations on the defensive side of the football he said:

"“Well, again, if you went to last year’s press conference, wherever I did a press conference, or 10 years ago when I did a press conference, wherever I did a press conference, I’m going to really answer that the same way. Do we have to establish some standards at Oklahoma? Our standards as an offensive and defensive staff, me as the head coach? Absolutely.“That process took place from the moment I took the job. You have to rehearse your beliefs. You have to rehearse what your values are. You have to rehearse what your standards are continuously as you nurture and develop a culture of excellence, a culture of great defense, what that looks like. And then sometimes you’ve got to go through it to grow and improve. “"

Leadership on the team

Venables was very complimentary of the leadership on this Oklahoma team. So much so that he did not want to single out too many people because, as he put it, several people have earned and proven themselves as leaders on the team. He did somewhat single out DL Ethan Downs, Mims, Gabriel, and WR Woodi Washington, all of whom made the trip to Big 12 Media Days, but said the leadership extends far beyond those athletes. It appears Oklahoma’s culture is on the rise and that is a good thing. Others have reported or indicated that it was lacking in recent years.

"“It’s really been a team effort from a leadership standpoint,” Venables said. “There’s been buy-in at every position on both sides of the ball. I would be remiss if I just named a few guys. And certainly the five guys that are here today have earned the right as leaders, as guys that have invested, as guys that have been about it.“I talk about be about it, quit talking about it. I want guys that are going to be about it. I’m looking for doers, not takers. And these guys here today represent a great locker room of a bunch of great leaders.”"

On his QB Dillon Gabriel

Gabriel has come to Oklahoma by the way of UCF where he played under former Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel and was coached by current Sooner offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Gabriel has been one of the best QBs in the nation and comes in with 70 TDs and 14 INTs in his career.

Certainly, losing talented passers like Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler cannot be understated. All things equal, Oklahoma would likely want to have one of those two guys instead, but Gabriel is a top-ten player at his position in the nation, and Oklahoma is certainly fortunate to be bringing him in. Things could have certainly been considerably worse.

"“Well, that’s a great question. There are certainly parallels in many ways, bringing in an experienced lefty in our first year,” Venables said. “But to me, it goes back just to the people. You’ve got to be good enough. Dillon Gabriel is a winner. You can’t say it any better than that. He’s thrown for 8,000 yards, completed over 60 percent of his passes, incredible touchdown-to-interception ratio, just a great leader. He’s our quarterback.“Certainly, anything can happen as we move forward through fall camp. It’s always about daily competition. But I feel great I can lay my head down at night knowing not just what he has done on the football field but the quality of the person he is. He’s about all the right stuff. He’s dependable. He’s reliable. He’s accountable. He’s humble. He’s one of the hardest workers, shows up early. He’s last one to leave. Always working to improve. And he leads by example, and guys follow him. He’s a galvanizer of people.”"