Oklahoma football: K-State near and dear to Brent Venables, but not this week

Oct 18, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops (right) shakes hands with Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder (left) before the game at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2014; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops (right) shakes hands with Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder (left) before the game at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

During his regular weekly press conference on Tuesday, Oklahoma football head coach Brent Venables was asked if he stays in touch with former Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.

The OU head coach said he texted his former head coach and mentor in advance of the Sooners’ road trip to Nebraska last weekend. Venables wanted to know if there was anything special he should know about playing at Nebraska. Snyder reminded him that the Nebraska fans were in the hotel parking lot at about 1 a.m. honking horns, yelling and waking up the K-State team.

After OU’s win last weekend at Nebraska, Snyder texted Venables and said, “Great job on No. 3 (referring to Venables’ third win in his head-coaching debut). Now go get No. 4.”

About an hour or so later, Venables said, his former head coach must have checked the schedule, because he sent a clarifying follow-up text: “Just not this week. Not against us.”

Venables has had the privilege of working with some of the best head coaches in the game — first Snyder, then Bob Stoops at OU and Dabo Swinney at Clemson — but he considers Snyder the most influential and impactful for him in his football career.


Venables grew up in Salina, Kansas, and followed Kansas State football as a youth. Kansas State was not very good in those years. In fact, Sports Illustrated, in the late 1980scalled K-State “Futility U” and the worst team in college football. Venables played two years at Garden City Community College before transferring to Kansas State.

Venables’ journey on road to success began at Kansas State

Snyder had been at K-State two season when Venables got there. Venables played linebacker, and his first season at Kansas State finished with a record of 7-4, the first winning season in maybe forever, and the beginning of one of the most amazing turnarounds in college football history.

As an example of how horrendous Kansas State football was before Snyder came to the rescue at the beginning of the 1989 season, in the 52 years between 1937 and 1988, Oklahoma was 50-2 against Kansas State, including a 32-game winning streak between 1937 and 1968.

Barry Switzer never lost a game to Kansas State, going 16-0 as the Sooners’ head coach from 1973 to 1988.

That wasn’t the case after Snyder arrived, however. In two different coaching stints at K-State (1989-2005 and 2009-2018), Snyder was 7-16 in games with Oklahoma, but just 2-11 when he went up against his former assistant and defensive coordinator Bob Stoops. Both of those Kansas State wins while Stoops was head coach came in Norman and were two of the 10 total home games Stoops lost in his 18 seasons as head coach at Oklahoma.

Venables has found success everywhere he has been — in 26 seasons of coaching at three different stops, the Kansas State alum has never experienced a losing season — but it was his time at K-State with both Snyder and Stoops that got him started on the journey that eventually brought him to a head coaching at one of the blueblood programs in college football.

Venables was a good but not great linebacker at Kansas State. He actually walked on to the K-State program. But what Snyder really liked about him was his commitment to the game and his teammates, his eagerness to be coached and to put in the hard work and sacrifice it takes to get better.

Oklahoma job was the one Venables was hoping for

In an interview with Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World this week, Snyder used the words “caring, committed, hard-working and respectful” and, above all, “loyalty” to describe Venables.

“Those values have carried over in Brent’s life from time to time,” Snyder said. “He has had so many opportunities to move from place to place. But, once again, his loyalty is something very special. He had so many offers, but I think Oklahoma was probably the only one he would have responded to.”

It was Stoops, as an assistant on the Kansas State staff, who influenced Snyder to bring on Venables as a graduate assistant in 1993, and it was Stoops who convinced the then 28-year-old Venables to leave his comfortable surroundings in the Little Apple and come with him to Oklahoma in 1999 and join the Sooners’ staff.

Venables made several references to Snyder and his time at Kansas State during Tuesday’s press conference — it was a timely subject with the OU head coach’s alma mater coming to town this weekend and this being his first time going against Kansas State as a head coach (he was 7-0 vs. K-State while at OU as an assistant coach) — referring to him as “brilliant, fabulous and a man of class and grace.”

The Tulsa World’s Emig asked the retired Kansas State head coach if Saturday’s game with Oklahoma would be hard for him:

“Well, certainly I pull for individuals as much as teams,” Snyder said. In the typical wit we’ve come to hear from the legendary KSU coach, however, he added, “I’m pleased the game is being played at Oklahoma and I’m not going. If it were here, I’d be here watching it and that would be even worse.”

“I admire Brent, the type of person he is,” Snyder said. “”He’s been a highly successful football coach, but I think his manner and the quality of individual he is is what sets him apart from so many.”

High praise coming from one of the all-time best head coaches and most respected individuals to ever grace the college game.

The University of Oklahoma and OU football are the beneficiaries of Venables’ patience and his unbending loyalty