Oklahoma Football: What to expect in Brent Venables second season – History says…

Year Two – Team 129

Taking over the head coaching position of a blue-blood college football program is a challenge, to say the least. Establishing a culture, weeding out the non-believers, and, most importantly… winning is hard to do. Unfortunately, the Oklahoma football program knows this all too well.

During Brent Venables’s first season as a head coach, he went 6-7 and lost to Florida State in the Cheez-it-Bowl in the postseason. Life goes on, the sun rises in the East, and there’s always year two.

For Sooner Nation, year two can’t get here fast enough. The Oklahoma football fanbase is starving to see the program return to its not-too-recent winning ways. The fanbase is desperate to get the 2022 taste out of its mouth. These desires are exponentially multiplied by those inside the Switzer Center. But are year two’s any better than year one’s? Let’s take a look at what history tells us.

I compiled a list of coaches over the past 23 seasons (since 2000) to see how their second season went. I didn’t cherry-pick coaches; I used some criteria to try and make it as close to the current Oklahoma football program’s situation as possible.

Overall, it’s impossible to compare several of history’s successful coaches to today’s due to the transfer portal and NIL. However, most coaches on this list are still coaching today, so they operate within the same confines as Coach Venables and his staff. All of the coaches examined in this article were/are defensive-minded coaches. These coaches were defensive coordinators before their first head coaching job (like Venables). They all coached at high-profile, power-five schools (like Venables). And they are all examined within the context of their second year on the job. Here we go.

2000 – Bob Stoops – Oklahoma Sooners

11 Nov 2000: Head Coach Bob Stoops of Oklahoma Sooners exits the field after defeating Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT

Coach Stoops was hired by the Sooners on December 31, 1998, at the age of 38. Before arriving in Norman, Stoops was the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. He was one of the nation’s hottest coaching commodities during his final years in Florida. He famously rejected the Minnesota job in 1996 and the Arkansas job in 1997.

Year 1

Coach Stoops’s first year in Norman led the Sooners to a 7-5 overall record (5-3 in the Big 12). The 1999 Sooners concluded their season with a 27-25 loss to Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl.

Year 2

We all remember year two. Stoops saw his Sooners defeat the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl to clinch its 13th win of the year and the Oklahoma football program’s seventh national title. One interesting point for Sooner Nation to remember about this year as it relates to Coach Venables. The 2000 Sooners have a second-year transfer quarterback (J. Heupel), a second-year defensive coordinator (Venables and M. Stoops), a second-year offensive coordinator (Mangino), and a first-year loss to Texas… all of which Venables has now.

1 for 1…

2001 – Nick Saban – LSU Tigers

8 Dec 2001: Head Coach Nick Saban of LSU celebrates as he walks off the field after winning the Southeastern Conference Championships (SEC) between Tennessee and Louisiana State University at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. LSU defeated Tennessee with a final score of 31-20. Digital Image. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT

Coach Saban was hired by the LSU Tigers in December of 1999 at the age of 48. Before arriving in Baton Rouge, Saban was the coach of Michigan State, who was bowl bound when he left the program for the Tigers. Another example of how history repeats itself. Brian Kelly, the current LSU head coach, did the same thing when he left bowl-bound Notre Dame to coach the LSU Tigers.

Year 1

Coach Saban’s first year saw his Tigers go 8-4 (5-3 in the SEC) and win the Peach Bowl 28-14 against Georgia Tech.

Year 2

The 2001 LSU Tigers finished their season 10-3 overall and 5-3 in the SEC. The Tigers beat a favored Tennessee squad 31-20 in the SEC Championship game, earning them a spot in the coveted Sugar Bowl. The Tigers finished their season with a 47-34 win against Illinois in the Sugar Bowl. Like the 2000 Sooners, the 2001 LSU Tigers’ offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher, was in his second year as the offensive coordinator of the Tigers.

2 for 2 so far…

2002 – Pete Carroll – USC Trojans

LOS ANGELES – SEPTEMBER 2: Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans jumps in frustration during the game against the Auburn Tigers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 2, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Auburn 24-17. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Coach Carroll was hired by Southern Cal in December of 2000. He was 49 years old. Before his head coaching position at USC, Coach Carroll was the New England Patriots’ head coach. He hadn’t coached in over a year before signing his contract with USC. An interesting note about the Carroll hire, SC athletic director Mike Garrett had to settle for Carroll. He initially wanted a high-profile name from the college ranks. History repeating again… remember Lincoln Riley? That’s an SC thing, I guess.

Year 1

Coach Carroll’s 2001 Trojans went 6-6 (5-3 in the Pac 10). They finished the first Carroll season with a 6-10 loss to the Utah Utes in the Las Vegas Bowl. Their dynasty began after that.

Year 2

The 2002 USC Trojans went 11-2 (7-1 in the Pac 10). They finished the 2002 season with a 38-17 blowout of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Orange Bowl. Following this season, the USC Trojans built arguably one of the most powerful dynasties in college football history, winning two national titles and two Heisman trophies.

3 for 3…

2002 – Gary Patterson – TCU Horned Frogs

FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 15: Head coach Gary Patterson of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs on the sidelines against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 15, 2003 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Horned Frogs defeated the Bearcats 43-10. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Coach Patterson was hired by the Horned Frogs in 2000 as a defensive coordinator, later accepting the head coaching position in 2001. He was known as one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation, a title he kept throughout his coaching career in Ft. Worth.

Year 1

The 2001 TCU Horned Frogs went 6-6 overall (4-3 in the CUSA). The Toads finished the 2001 season losing to Texas A&M 28-9 in the prestigious Gallery Furniture.com Bowl.

Year 2

The 2002 TCU Horned Frogs were a completely different football program. Patterson established his tough-nosed culture in Ft. Worth, which paid dividends on the football field. The team went 10-2 overall (6-2 in the CUSA). The Toads also finished the season with a 17-3 win over the Colorado State Rams in the Liberty Bowl. Patterson went on to turn TCU into a nationally relevant program after winning multiple BCS Bowls and a conference invitation to the Big 12, where they reside today.

4 for 4…

2008 – Nick Saban – Alabama Crimson Tide

Oct 4, 2008; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban yells during his game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Saban again… After a brief stint as the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins, Coach Saban returned to the college game. He was hired by Bama in 2007, and the rest is history.

Year 1

The 2007 Tide went 6-6 overall (4-4 in the SEC). The Tide finished the year with a 30-24 victory in the Independence Bowl against Colorado.

Year 2

The 2008 Alabama Crimson Tide looked a lot more like the Tide of today. They finished the season with a 12-2 record (8-0 in the SEC). The Tide lost to eventual National Champion Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game. They also lost to an underdog Utah Utes team in the Sugar Bowl to close the season. However, the greatest college football dynasty of all time was born. The following season, Saban won his first of six national championships as Bama’s head coach.

5 for 5…

2017 – Kirby Smart – Georgia Bulldogs

Nov 4, 2017; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart shown on the field against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Smart may be the next Saban. He took over as the head coach of Georgia in 2016. Coach Smart joined the Dawgs after a successful career as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa. He learned from the best. The student quickly became the teacher.

Year 1

The 2016 Georgia Bulldogs went 8-5 (4-4 in the SEC). The Dawgs ended the year with a 31-23 win over the TCU Horned Frogs in the Liberty Bowl.

Year 2

Ouch. Hate to type this one. The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs went 13-2 overall (7-1 in the SEC). The Georgia squad won the 2017 SEC title, earning them a spot in the College Football Playoff against the Sooners in the Rose Bowl. The Dawgs handed business in Pasadena and played the Tide for the National Title. Had it not been for a second-half quarterback change and a last-second touchdown to eventual Heisman-winning receiver Davonta Smith, the Bulldogs would’ve won the 2017 National Championship. The seeds were planted, however. Now Coach Smart and his Bulldogs sit at the top of the College Football mountain, and they don’t look like they plan on descending anytime soon.

6 for 6…

2021 – Dave Aranda – Baylor Bears

Oct 30, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Dave Aranda watches as his team competes against the Texas Longhorns in the second half of an NCAA football game at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Aranda was hired by the Baylor Bears in January 2020 after a stint as the defensive coordinator at the 2019 National Champion LSU Tigers program. Aranda was tasked with building a struggling Baylor Bears team that was left reeling after the unexpected exit of Matt Rhule.

Year 1

The 2020 Baylor Bears went 2-7 overall (2-7 in the Big 12) in the COVID-shortened season. The Bears were miserable, and it appeared the Baylor of old had finally returned.

Year 2

The 2021 Baylor Bears shocked the college football world. The squad went 12-2 overall (7-2 in the Big 12). The Bears won the Big 12 title defeating Oklahoma State 21-16, earning them a spot in the Sugar Bowl. The Bears defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl, cementing Aranda as a legitimate national power.

7 for 7…

Coaches Stoops, Saban, and Patterson have also won NCAA Coach of the Year Awards (Saban and Patterson have two apiece).

2023 – Brent Venables – Oklahoma Sooners

Sep 17, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables yells during the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Rest easy, Sooner Nation… the right man for the job is in Norman. Coach Venables is a program builder like the other coaches on this list. He’s not a quick fixer. He knows what he’s doing and needs to be trusted to do it. Do you remember how bad we wanted him?

I’ll leave you with this. When Coach Riley left Norman, the Sooners’ fanbase was scared. Admit it. It had never happened to Oklahoma. Who would leave here for another college job? In stepped Coach Stoops. At a press conference, Coach Stoops put a tourniquet on the Sooners by reminding us, “Not one guy is bigger than the program.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brent Venables, is a program guy. History repeats itself all the time. Just wait… it’ll do it again.