Venables steps in as new OU head coach

New OU head football coach Brent Venables greets fans Sunday as he arrives in Norman at Max Westheimer Airport.

Last Sunday, Lincoln Riley departed Oklahoma and seemingly left the program in chaos.

Seven days later, OU found the man to replace him.

The Sooners officially announced Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as the program’s new football coach on Sunday. Venables marks the 23rd head coach in Oklahoma history.

“This is a truly great day for Oklahoma — for our program, our current players, former players, recruits and fans,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castligione said in a press release. “... He has a track record of establishing meaningful relationships with his players and preparing them for the next level. Brent embraces competition and the challenges that come with it, and there is no doubt in my mind he is the right man to lead OU football into its next great era.”

The Sooners, and fans, have plenty of familiarity with Venables.

Venables served as the Sooners’ co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1999 to 2003, and he was on staff for OU’s national championship in 2000.

He was then promoted to sole defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops from 2004 to 2011.

Prior to OU, Venables coached at Kansas State before Stoops brought him to the Sooners.

Upon arriving at Clemson in 2012, Venables and the Tigers became known for having one of the best defenses in the country. The Tigers won national championships in 2016 and 2018 with Venables coaching the defense.

Under Venables, the Tigers have posted a Top 5 defense nationally in each of the past five seasons.

“Coach Venables is the perfect leader for the next exciting chapter of Oklahoma football as we look ahead to a new era of competition,” OU President Joseph Harroz said. “OU is a destination job with an iconic program positioned for sustained success to which Coach Venables has already contributed. He is a charismatic and proven coach, and with 13 years under his belt on the Sooner coaching staff, he’s one of our own.”

It’s big news for the Sooners and they announced it in a big way.

Castligione and Harroz flew to South Carolina early on Sunday to finalize the deal with Venables before all three returned to Norman in the evening. When they arrived, they found hundreds of Sooners fans waiting for them.

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