Brent Venables is the New Head Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners 💯

Oklahoma has found their guy in the wake of Lincoln Riley’s abrupt departure for USC.

Venables, who has spent the last 10 years as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, was repeatedly offered head coaching jobs over that span but turned them all down in favor of remaining in his highly-paid role at Clemson. Even though he was one of the most highly sought-after coaching candidates in the nation, it did seem for a while like he was perfectly content with making $2.5 million a year and competing for National Championships. It felt like Venables would never become a head coach.

It turns out he was just being selective and waiting for the perfect opportunity to come around. And he had every reason to be content with waiting: he felt he was in a great situation at Clemson, and he was the highest-paid coordinator in the nation. $2.5 million is more than a lot of head coaches make!

It was going to take a truly big-time head coaching offer to convince Venables to leave Clemson. Oklahoma definitely fit the billing.

You take a look at Oklahoma over the past two decades or so, Bob Stoops had that job locked up for 18 years, and when he finally stepped down in 2016, there was no head coaching search. Lincoln Riley was the hand-picked successor. So really, this is the first time the OU job has been truly open since 1999. You get the sense that is this the job Venables has been waiting so long for.

Venables spent 13 years at Oklahoma as defensive coordinator under Stoops. He was brought on in 1999 when Stoops was first hired, and he remained there until 2012, when a coaching staff shakeup resulted in Bob Stoops’ brother, Mark, being installed as defensive coordinator, and Venables leaving Oklahoma to take the Clemson job.

The deep ties are there, the OU faithful are ecstatic over the hire, and most of all, it seems like Venables really wants to be there at Oklahoma. OU fans are having trust issues after being left at the proverbial altar by Lincoln Riley. They’re wondering if maybe the OU job is no longer elite.

Well, I wouldn’t worry about that anymore. Venables taking the job is proof it’s still top-tier. Venables has been offered tons of head coaching jobs over the past decade and he’s turned them all down. But he accepted the Oklahoma job. That should tell you something.

I don’t think Oklahoma fans have to worry about Venables bolting for perceived greener pastures. I think he really wants to be there. I think he’s wanted this job for a long time. He had a great thing going at Clemson and wasn’t going to leave it for just any old job. It had to be a special opportunity–a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Plus, Venables is an extremely loyal guy. Just look at his track record. 13 years at OU, 10 years at Clemson: the guy sticks around. OU fans don’t have to worry about him bolting.

I said last week when all this was just a rumor that Venables would be a phenomenal hire for Oklahoma if they were in fact able to get him, and I stand by that.

I think this is a home run hire for Oklahoma.

You’ve now got a guy who has been widely recognized as the best defensive mind in college football for the past decade.

He’s coached against SEC teams. He’s sent dozens of guys to the NFL. He’s coached in the playoff plenty of times. He’s won National Championships.

This dude is the real deal.

Heading into the SEC, Oklahoma is much better off with Venables at the helm than they would’ve been with Lincoln Riley. Trust me on that one.

Lincoln Riley is a brilliant offensive mind, but his teams don’t play defense. The last time OU was in the playoff, they let up 63 points to LSU. They were down 49-14 at HALFTIME. LSU could’ve scored 80 in that game if they really wanted to. LSU had almost 700 yards of offense.

I’m sorry but OU was not winning a national championship with Lincoln Riley. He just didn’t place the proper emphasis on defense.

Oklahoma would’ve gotten eaten alive in the SEC with Lincoln Riley’s defenses.

Look at the teams that succeed in the SEC: Bama and Georgia. While Bama has become a really prolific offense, they still have a strong defense and they’ve always been built on defense. Nick Saban has a defensive background. Kirby Smart is a defensive guy.

You are not winning in the SEC unless you play strong, tough and ferocious defense. It’s just not happening. Oklahoma would be an 8-4 program every year under Lincoln Riley in the SEC.

Now, Venables needs to get the right offensive coordinator. That’s priority #1 for him now. He’s going to turn that OU defense into a juggernaut in short order. The question is whether he’ll be able to find the right guy to lead the OU offense. He’s gonna have to do what Nick Saban did and entrust the offense to someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s a proven strategy that works.

Take a look at Clemson this season: they were absolutely elite on defense. They ranked 5th in yards-per-play allowed, 7th in average yards per carry allowed, and only allowed 6.04 passing yards per attempt.

The problem with Clemson this year is that they were garbage on offense. They ranked 97th in yards per play, 47th in yards per carry, and 95th in total offensive yards.

You look at the Georgia game in week 1: Venables’ defense held Georgia to 3 offensive points. The final score was 10-3 Georgia, and Georgia’s only points came off a pick-six.

OU will have an elite defense under Brent Venables. It might take some time to build it up after how long they’ve neglected it, but it’ll be there under Venables within a few years. You’ll even see big improvements as early as next season. There is plenty of talent there at OU for Venables to work with already.

I think Venables will be a great recruiter as well. Guys are going to want to play for him. Just look at the track record of how many guys he’s already sent to the NFL. Plus the OU brand sells itself.

This is a slam-dunk hire, as I said before.

Oklahoma is leaving the Big 12. They needed a change in leadership for the move to the SEC.

You are not winning games in the SEC without a real defense. It’s just not going to happen.

Brent Venables is a guy who has beaten Alabama. He’s going to completely transform that program.

Now, as for Clemson, how are they going to handle the departure of Venables? Well, I don’t think they’re going to completely fall off, that’s an overreaction. But we saw how much the offense fell off when they lost Trevor Lawrence, and now they’re losing the guy who has led the defense for a decade.

Coordinator continuity is one of the most underrated aspects to success in college football. A big part of the reason Clemson has been so good for so long is they’ve had their coordinators locked in for a really long time. Venables was there for a decade, and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has been there for going on 8 years now.

You look at a team like Ohio State, who loses coordinators almost every other year: it really affects them. Ohio State was elite on defense in 2019 when they had Jeff Hafley, but then he took the Boston College head coaching job, and the Ohio State defense has been weak for the past 2 seasons. Ohio State had Luke Fickell as defensive coordinator for over a decade, but after he left for the Cincinnati job in 2017, the Ohio State defense quickly fell off and has never been the same other than that one season with Jeff Hafley in 2019. Ohio State’s offense also fell off quite a bit after losing Tom Herman after the 2014 season.

You take a look at Bama as well, having Kirby Smart from 2008-2016 as defensive coordinator–Bama has had to basically completely retool their whole gameplan since Smart’s departure. They’re an offensively-driven program nowadays. Bama still has a great defense, but it’s never been as good as it was under Kirby Smart.

Coordinators are immensely important in college football. When a top-tier program experiences a drop-off in production on either side of the ball from one season to the next, the culprit is often a change at either offensive or defensive coordinator.

I don’t think people realize how important the coordinators are in college football. Most college football coaches don’t call plays. There’s only a select few who call plays: Lincoln Riley and Ryan Day are probably the most notable head coaches who call plays, and they’re both very good at it. You also have Purdue’s Jeff Brohm and Mississippi State’s Mike Leach (also both really good), FSU’s Mike Norvell. UF’s Dan Mullen used to, but he’s been fired.

Head coaches in college football are more CEO-like figures. Sure, they have input on the playcalling, but most of them don’t call plays. Dabo doesn’t call plays. Saban doesn’t call plays. Head coaches are responsible for recruiting, setting the overall game plan, making in-game adjustments, motivation, and keeping everyone on the same page. But the play-calling itself usually falls on the coordinators.

And hell, even a lot of recruiting falls on the coordinators. Apparently the head coaches are more responsible for closing the sale with recruits rather than building the relationships with recruits over a long period of time. The head coach is the closer. It’s the coordinators and the individual position coaches who are most responsible for the actual day-to-day grind of recruiting.

Clemson will definitely feel the loss of Brent Venables. It’s impossible for them not to, honestly. He’s been the best defensive coordinator in the sport for a decade now. You don’t just lose a guy like that and not skip a beat. They’ll find somebody good to replace him, but Venables wasn’t just good–he was great.

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