The Oklahoma Sooners welcomes Coach Brent Venables to Norman.
Brent Venables is officially the new University of Oklahoma football coach. The school announced the news Sunday night.
The Clemson defensive coordinator and former 13-year Sooner assistant coach who won a national championship with OU and two more with Clemson. He’s OU’s 23rd head football coach.
“This is an incredibly special opportunity. Julie and I and our family are extremely grateful for the belief in us — and certainly in me — to be the next head coach at Oklahoma, one of the winningest and most tradition-rich programs in college football history. Our memories from Norman, where all four of our children were born, have been nothing but great. We’re looking forward to making another decade-plus of incredible memories as we transition to a new era of Oklahoma football, especially with the opportunity and the challenge to join the SEC, the premier conference in all of college football. Joe Castiglione, President Harroz and the Board of Regents have given us incredible support that equals the best of the best in our sport. There’s no question we are equipped to compete at the very highest level and attract the best players from across the country. The OU logo has never been stronger.”— New OU head football coach Brent Venables
Venables replaces Lincoln Riley, who left last week to take over at USC.
Venables was on Oklahoma’s 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 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 top assistant coach.
Venables’ Clemson defense led the nation in scoring defense in 2018, and his 2020 unit tied for the nation’s lead in sacks. This season, Clemson ranks ninth nationally in total defense, eighth in rushing defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.
“This is a truly great day for Oklahoma — for our program, our current players, former players, recruits and fans. Coach Venables is a proven winner who over the years has helped his teams earn 13 conference championships and three national titles, and has developed one of the country’s consistently best defenses. A born leader, he helped build and sustain an exceptional culture during his 13 years here at Oklahoma and his 10 seasons at Clemson. He has a track record of establishing meaningful relationships with his players and preparing them for the next level. Brent embraces competition and the challenges that come with it, and there is no doubt in my mind he is the right man to lead OU football into its next great era. We couldn’t be more excited for Brent to return to OU as our head coach and for him, his wife Julie and their children Jake, Tyler, Laney and Addie to call Norman home again.”— OU athletic director Joe Castiglione
Oklahoma was caught off guard when Riley took the job at USC. The Sooners quickly made Stoops interim coach to calm things down during recruiting. Stoops reassured the fan base that things would be fine at a program that has won seven national titles and had seven Heisman Trophy winners.
Venables quickly emerged as a favorite among fans for the job. Many had hoped the Sooners could lure him back from Clemson as defensive coordinator after the Sooners fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops in 2018. The Sooners chose Alex Grinch, who now has joined Riley at USC.
Venables’ first order of business will be to save as much of the recruiting class as possible. Several players announced their intention to enter the transfer portal Riley’s decision, including quarterback Spencer Rattler. Numerous recruits decommitted, including Malachi Nelson -- a five-star quarterback who now says he is heading to USC.
Riley set the bar high. He went 55-10 in five seasons with the Sooners and led them to three playoff appearances. Under his direction, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won Heisman trophies and were No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft.
The Sooners went 10-2 this season and fell just short of competing for what would have been a seventh consecutive Big 12 title. They lost their regular-season finale 37-33 to Oklahoma State.
AP writers Cliff Brunt and Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.
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