Brent Venables draws social backlash from 10-win boast

Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables talks during a press conference in Norman, Okla., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023.
Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables talks during a press conference in Norman, Okla., Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. /

Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables is not known for making wild, unsupported predictions or setting unrealistic expectations for his football team.

To say that the second-year Sooner head coach is highly competitive, though, and extremely proud of the players who play for him is an overt understatement.

The Sooners experienced one of their worst seasons in nearly a quarter century a year ago, finishing with a sub-.500 6-7 overall record. The biggest reason for that highly disappointing performance was a defense that leaked like a sieve. Oklahoma finished the 2022 season ranked 121 out of 131 FBS teams in total defense. It was also surprising to many that the OU defense would be that bad with its head coach’s reputation and record as one of college football’s best defensive coaches.

Oklahoma has had a great offseason with a top-five recruiting class heavy in highly touted defensive prospects, and several big defensive pickups through the transfer portal that should have an immediate impact. These additions should bring improvements to the Sooner defense. The big question is how soon and how much?

Venables made a comment about the OU defense in the coming season that was quoted in an article this week by Ryan Aber of The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman.

“If we just get better on defense, we’re going to win 10-plus games and have a chance to hang a banner up at the end of the year,” Venables said.

At face value, and probably in the view of most Sooner fans, the OU head coach’s statement doesn’t seem that alarming. After all, Oklahoma ranks second only to Alabama in the number of 10-win seasons. And when you consider that the Sooners lost four games last season by just three points and that OU’s 2023 schedule is one of the more favorable in the Big 12, it isn’t that far-fetched to think that OU could win as many as 10 games in the coming season.

The social media backlash to Venables’ comments, however, have taken a much different turn. Here are a few representative examples:

I suppose in the frenzied social media world we all now live in, something like this was to be expected. But if you really examine what Venables said — and certainly intended to say — if the Sooners do get better on defense (he didn’t really quantify the percentage of improvement necessary) they are capable of winning up to 10 games (to imply the over here might be a bit of a stretch, although they have had a number of 12-win seasons with just a fair defense in the recent past).

If the Sooners were able to accomplish what Venables is suggesting, they certainly would have a chance to at least hang a conference champion banner.

Venables might also have had an alternative motive in the words he used: As motivation to the team and to show the confidence and belief the head coach has in them.

The Oklahoma head coach would like nothing better than to prove all the naysayers wrong. The one thing we do know about him: He won’t be backing off of these comments, no matter has much blowback it gets.