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Oklahoma hires Brent Venables as new head coach


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

Venables will be presented on Monday morning at the Norman campus, the school said.

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

“He knows the formula for winning national championships and has the tenacity, attitude and combat that I think will elevate our program in many positive ways,” said Stoops, who has served as interim coach since September. Riley’s surprising departure last week. for Southern California. “I’ve always loved his energy, his enthusiasm and his passion for the game – it clearly carries over to his players.”

Brent Venables has served on three national champion teams.

Venables, who will be head coach for the first time, said in a statement he was delighted to add to the history of a program that has won seven national titles and seven Heisman trophies. He also said he embraces the Sooners’ eventual move to the Southeast Conference, which is slated for 2025.

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

Under Venables, Clemson led the nation in scoring defense in 2018, and his 2020 unit tied for the lead in the sacks. This season, Clemson ranks second nationally for scoring defense, ninth for total defense, eighth for running defense and sixth for defense against passing efficiency.

Oklahoma was caught off guard when Riley accepted the job at USC. Stoops took over on an interim basis to calm things down during recruiting.

Venables quickly became a fan favorite for the job. Many were hoping the Sooners could lure him in from Clemson as a defensive coordinator after the Sooners fired coordinator Mike Stoops in 2018. The Sooners picked Alex Grinch, who left to join Riley at USC.

Venables’ first concern will be preventing players from transferring and reclaiming as much of the recruiting class as possible. Several players have announced plans to enter the transfer portal after Riley’s decision, including quarterback Spencer Rattler. Many rookies have pulled out, including Malachi Nelson – a five-star quarterback who now says he’s heading to USC.

Brent Venables
Brent Venables
Getty Images

Riley has set the bar high. He went 55-10 in five seasons with the Sooners and led them to three college football playoff appearances. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won Heisman Trophies and were the No.1 picks in the NFL Draft.

The Sooners were 10-2 this season and came close to competing for what would have been a seventh straight Big 12 title. They lost their regular season final 37-33 to Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione believes the Sooners are ready to do more under Venables.

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


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