New Oklahoma coach Brent Venables turns his attention to the players

NORMAN, Okla. – Brent Venables received two Oklahoma welcomes fit for one king.

Hundreds of Sooners fans who watched coach Lincoln Riley leave for Southern California last week flocked to Norman’s airport on Sunday night to cheer. the appearance of Venables, Riley’s replacement.

A day later, Oklahoma introduced Venables to a crowd of energetic fans at the Sooners’ indoor practice facility. Sooner Schooner was present, the cheerleaders enlivened the crowd and the band played. There are fire engines and transmitters. Athletic director Joe Castiglione even gave Venables a pair of Air Jordan shoes.

Venables then explains in detail why bells and whistles aren’t what he said.

“Listen, I’m a simple guy,” says Venables, a native of Salina, Kansas. “I value certain things that others may not, maybe more. I value relationships. I value people. I value quality of life. And I value simplicity. Just because you’re a head coach doesn’t mean you can’t keep things simple. You control that story. ”


There’s no reason for him to change now – his approach is clearly working. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Kansas State before things really took off. He won three national titles and coached in eight national title games as co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2004 and defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2005. 2011 and at Clemson from 2012 to present.

Now, at the age of 50, he is starting his first job as a head coach. He believes he’s ready, in part, because the head coaches he’s learned from — Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma and Dabo Swinney at Clemson — have empowered him in the all the way.

“What they can pour on me – I’m always a sponge,” he said. “I’m taking it all in. I led my position group. I was leading the defense. I was in front of the team a lot. It was something easy for me. That’s what I love to do. I just love people. I am passionate about winning. I am passionate about winning in the right way, never compromising those values.”


Venables said he considered becoming head coach before, most seriously last year. But because he loved his job at Clemson, he could afford to seize the right opportunity.

“Literally, for the last 10 years, I went to work every day and I became a human,” he said. “And that’s hard to quantify for some people. But I had a point. I had awareness. I have appreciated. And I had a lot of fun.

“You try not to spoil the happiness. I knew that a long time ago. But this is unquestionable in my opinion, for all of the reasons that I’ve talked about – from leadership to alignment to the success of this program and that is history, position. mind and people. All.”

Oklahoma’s authorities said they felt blinded by Riley’s decision to leave. Many fans consider Riley disloyal, comparing NBA star Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016.


Venables made it clear that he has no plans to go anywhere.

“I have a loyal career, almost 30 years,” he said. “Just look at my career. If I’m something I’m loyal to. I’m not a trainer that just jumped all over. “

Venables said when he left Oklahoma 10 years ago, he never expected to return as head coach. But he doesn’t stop pulling the Sooners.

“You feel like it’s part of your fiber,” he says. “For me, it’s not just a job. It’s not just a job. You pour your life into it. You don’t just walk away and forget about it, for better or worse. You try to learn from all of that. So for me, absolutely, always paying attention. ”

Venables said he spoke with star quarterback Caleb Williams and his father and met with the team on Monday morning. He’s focused on connecting with current and future players. The Sooners have seen some of the top leads go down, with some looking to follow Riley to USC.


“My number one goal is to hit the recruiting road,” he said. “Make sure this class of ’22 will be enrolled here in the next few weeks where it’s needed. And then during the time between visits, visit our current players. “


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Huynh Nguyen

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