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- American football player and coach
Brent Venables is heading back to Oklahoma.
According to Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, the longtime Clemson defensive coordinator is set to replace Lincoln Riley as OU's next head coach. The school confirmed various media reports of the hiring via Twitter.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) December 6, 2021
Venables, 50, has been Clemson’s defensive coordinator since 2012 under Dabo Swinney. The Tigers have won two national titles in Venables’ time at Clemson and have made the playoff six times.
A lot of that success has been because of a stellar Clemson defense that has consistently churned out high NFL draft picks. Venables has been one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in college football in recent years and has been mentioned for numerous head coaching opportunities.
This one was finally the right fit.
Before going to Clemson, Venables was an assistant at Oklahoma from 1999-2011. He served as the team’s co-defensive coordinator for five seasons and then was its assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 2004-11. The Sooners won a BCS national title while he was in Norman and also consistently produced top-level NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Venables got his coaching start at Kansas State. He played linebacker for Bill Snyder after two seasons and then became a part of the Wildcats’ coaching staff. He was on KSU’s staff in various capacities from 1993-98 as KSU became one of the best teams in the country in that span.
By leaving for Oklahoma, Venables will be the second longtime Swinney assistant to become a head coach at the FBS level. South Florida coach Jeff Scott came to the Bulls after he was Clemson's co-offensive coordinator from 2015-19.
At Oklahoma, Venables is taking over a program that has lost exactly two games in each of the past seven seasons and went 65-10 in Riley’s five seasons with the team. Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops — who Venables was a longtime assistant under — is the team’s interim coach for the Alamo Bowl against Oregon.
A lot will also depend on Venables' choice for offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. Sooner fans are used to high-flying offenses run by Riley over the past decade. While Venables could turn the defense into one of the best units in college football, the offense needs to continue to run at a high level. Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, a graduate of Oklahoma, has been mentioned as a possible offensive coordinator for the Sooners. Ole Miss had one of the most prolific offenses in 2021 and averaged 36 points per game.