Brent Venables is crushing it so far.
Brent Venables is far from a made man.
Hard to be just 47 days into your first head coaching gig.
Even harder when you’re dealing with unprecedented roster turnover, figuring out how to build a staff for the first time and implementing a culture so vastly different from the one before it amid even wilder changes to the sport itself.
The 51-year-old Venables hasn’t sat on his laurels over the last month and a half. The Clemson defensive coordinator-turned-OU head man has reinvigorated a fan base scorned by Muleshoe, Texas’ favorite son, reestablished the Sooners’ 2022 recruiting class as a top-10 group nationally and put together one heck of a support system around himself entering Year 1 in Norman.
Oh, he also already has an iconic GIF, which doesn’t equate to wins but it’s hard not to enjoy a coach with some semblance of a personality when that’s been a bit hard to come by recently around Owen Field.
Now, Venables hasn’t squashed all doubt that he’ll work out just fine for the university, which hadn’t been forced to do a true coaching search since 1998. But the Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney disciple is slowly checking off the boxes of a coach that OU fans should be excited for come the fall.
I mean, how can you not be when the guy running your program seems determined to find success?1
Venables isn’t just trying to run back the Stoops blueprint or build a mini-Clemson.
The former Kansas State linebacker has adapted to the times while paying homage to the philosophies he’s lived the last two decades.
And if the two mesh in Norman? A playoff win — or better yet, a national title — might not be as herculean of a task as the previous staff made it seem.
Embracing the portal
One of the early concerns around the Venables regime was a comment he made during his introductory news conference on Dec. 6.
“It's cool now to quit,” said Venables of the transfer portal era. “I don't get that. I understand there are always extenuating circumstances and situations where it's OK for somebody that needs to move on, or maybe a graduate transfer that wants to go somewhere and actually play more. But it is a real issue. I think that goes back to being on the front end of trying to recruit people.”
Alarms rang as Venables preached the Gospel of Dabo, who was known to never use the transfer portal. Whether or not the long-time Tigers defensive coordinator would follow suit became a real worry.
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