December 2021 will be a month Oklahoma Sooners fans and alumni won’t soon forget. After the season ended with a surprising Bedlam loss, Lincoln Riley left for USC in the blink of an eye, leaving observers wondering what was next for OU.
Although it took University of Oklahoma management a week to finalize a deal with Brent Venables, their due diligence enabled the Sooners to find the right person to take over following the sudden departure of Riley.
Former defensive coordinator Venables had never been a head coach, biding his time for the right program to come calling. Although he had opportunities in the past to take charge of a team, his patience was rewarded with one of the best programs in college football.
The move drew rave reviews from college football, and they keep coming. 247Sports Brandon Marcello spent time grading every new staff member which took shape from the last coaching carousel and gave the Oklahoma Sooners an “A” for Brent Venables and his team.
But what does Marcello think Brent Venables brings to the Oklahoma Sooners?
Venables not only understands what it takes to win national titles after coaching alongside Dabo Swinney at Clemson, he knows how to manage egos, personalities and recruiting wars while shaping a team’s psychology properly. In my opinion, he is the best head coaching rookie of the offseason. –Marcello
From Dabo Swinney to Bob Stoops to Bill Snyder, Brent Venables has spent time learning from some of the best college football coaches of the past 30 years. These three legendary head coaches enjoyed sustained success in their programs, and Snyder and Stoops left lasting legacies in their retirement.
Venables has a clear idea of what he wants his program to look like. During his opening press conference, he spoke about holistic coaching. Not only to develop the athlete, but the student and the person. And it was a message that resonated as the Sooners were the beneficiaries of the transfer portal despite several players leaving after the coaching change.
He was successful in recruiting in SEC territory and he also helped Clemson win championship wins against the SEC. He’s the perfect coach to help evolve the Sooners as the Big 12 transitions to a more SEC style of play as OU prepares to transition to the SEC in the next two years.
Marcello then talked about the formation of Brent Venables coaching staff and also made some positive remarks towards them.
Venables’ staff is also excellent, although Florida edges out the Sooners for best staff by 10. Ole Miss’s Jeff Lebby has OU connections and his pass-heavy (willpower) style will provide a smooth transition. The addition of former Troy defensive coordinator Brandon Hall as a safety coach, as well as veteran Ted Roof as a playmaker, was also an overlooked trait. And how about catching Alabama cornerbacks coach Jay Valai fresh out of the national championship game? His biggest win might have been keeping DeMarco Murray on staff as a running backs coach. He will be important on the recruiting track in the years to come. –Marcello, 247Sports
Brent Venables has done a great job bringing the coaching staff together. Retaining Murray, Bill Bedenbaugh and Joe Jon Finley were just as crucial as any assistants he brought in. These three assistants kept the Oklahoma Sooners’ recruiting momentum going through the coaching transition and helped them maintain important commitments for 2022 and 2023. But the addition of Todd Bates and Jay Valai was a huge win for Oklahoma. Sooners, and we’re already seeing it pay off on the recruiting track.
Despite the transition, the Oklahoma Sooners are in great shape with winter practices underway with an eye on spring football. Although they suffered some losses, they are a team ready to bounce back from a disappointing end to the 2021 season.
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