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Oklahoma Has Reportedly Hired Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables As Head Coach

Oklahoma found itself in uncharted territory a week ago when head football coach Lincoln Riley left the program to become USC’s head coach, the first coach to voluntarily leave Oklahoma in decades. Bob Stoops stepped in to take over the program once again on an interim basis, but the sudden coaching search began and left the Sooners needing to find their place in the college landscape.

With a looming move to the SEC, the job wasn’t necessarily as coveted as it once was, as they’ll go from top dogs in the Big 12 to fighting with Alabama, Georgia, and others to be tops in their new conference. Still, it’s Oklahoma, one of the best and most consistent programs in the entire country, and one that has a rich history that they like to stay connected to. As such, it came as little surprise that they went looking for coaches with ties to Norman, and have ultimately landed on Clemson defensive coordinator (and former Oklahoma assistant) Brent Venables, with a deal finalized on Sunday evening (apparently at Venables’ lake house).

Venables has been at Clemson since leaving Oklahoma in 2012, leading a Tigers defense that is perennially among the best in the country. This season, despite Clemson’s general struggles, the defense was again the strong point. Venables was once considered one of the hottest assistants in college football for his work at Clemson, who consistently raised his pay to keep him in South Carolina as overtures were made from potential suitors. There had been a sense that Venables maybe didn’t want to make the jump to head coach, happy to continue piling up accolades and titles at Clemson under Dabo Swinney, but the Oklahoma job proved too good to pass up.

It’ll be interesting to see how Clemson proceeds from here, given the importance of Venables to creating the foundation of their culture on the defensive side of the ball. For Oklahoma, it’s not the splashiest hire, but they land someone with a tremendous resume on the defensive side of the ball with Sooner ties to salvage things after Riley’s sudden departure.