Oklahoma hires former assistant Brent Venables as new head coach

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Oklahoma hired Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as their head coach to replace Lincoln Riley on Sunday night, bringing back a former Sooners assistant with a long track record of success.

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The school said veneers would be offered Monday morning at Norman’s campus.

The 50-year-old Venables was on the Oklahoma staff under Bob Stoops as co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003 and defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011. He was co-defensive coordinator when Sooners won the 2000 national title. He left Oklahoma for Clemson in 2012 and won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant in 2016. He has been on the staff of teams that have won three national titles and participated in eight national championship games.


Stoops, who has been serving as interim coach since Riley’s surprise departure last week, said: “He knows the formula for winning a national championship and I think the rigor, the attitude and the fighting will enhance our program in very positive ways. ” for Southern California. “I’ve always loved his energy, enthusiasm and passion for the game – it clearly spills over to his players.”

Brent Venables has been on the staff of three national title teams.

Venables, who will be head coach for the first time, said in a statement that he is excited to join the history of a program that has won seven national titles and seven Heisman Trophy winners. He also said he was accepting Sooners’ final move at the Southeastern Conference, scheduled for 2025.

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“There is no doubt that we are well equipped to compete at the highest level and attract the best players from across the country,” he added. “The OU logo has never been stronger.”

Under Venables, Clemson led the country in defense scoring in 2018, and his 2020 unit tied for the lead in the sacks. This season, Clemson is second nationally in defense scoring, ninth in overall defense, eighth in defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.

When Riley took over at USC, Oklahoma was provided security. Stoops took over on an interim basis to calm things down during the recruitment.

Venables quickly emerged as a fan favorite for the job. Many expected the Sooners to bring him back from Clemson as defensive coordinator after coordinator Mike Stoops was fired by the Sooners in 2018. The Sooners chose Alex Grinch, who went on to join Riley at USC.

Venables’ first concern will be preventing players from relocating and salvaging as many recruiting classes as possible. Several players announced their intention to enter the transfer portal following Riley’s decision, including quarterback Spencer Rattler. Several recruits were fired, including Malachi Nelson – a five-star quarterback who now says he is moving to USC.

Brent Venables
Brent Venables
Getty Images

Riley sets the bar high. He went 55–10 in five seasons with the Sooners and took them to three college football playoffs. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won the Heisman Trophy and were No. 1 overall in the NFL draft.

The Sooners went 10-2 this season and fell short of competing for a seventh consecutive Big 12 title. They lost their regular season finish 37–33 to Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione believes Venables is ready to achieve more under him soon.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he is the right person to lead OU football into its next great era,” Castiglione said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited for Brent to return to OU as our head coach.”


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