Just when it appeared late Saturday that the Oklahoma football program had its man in tow as the next head coach of the Sooners, it now appears the wind has shifted differently.
Ryan Chapman, who covers Oklahoma sports for Sports Illustrated, published a story on Saturday reporting that Dan Lanning, defensive coordinator at Georgia, would be announced as the new Oklahoma head coach. We cited that published report and subsequently posted it at StormininNorman.
SI Sooners later issued a correction to that story, stating that the news was in error and that Oklahoma was indeed considering Lanning, along with a couple of other candidates, but has not made an official decision regarding the head coach. SI Sooners stated it regrets the error, and we at StormininNorman and FanSided join them in that apology.
ESPN and other sources are now reporting that the University of Oklahoma is working toward finalizing a deal with Brent Venables, a former OU assistant who for the past 10 seasons has served as defensive coordinator for Clemson.
Venables was on of several assistant coaches who followed Bob Stoops to Oklahoma when Stoops was named head coach of the Sooners prior to the 1999 season. Venables was on the coaching staff at Kansas State along with Stoops before the latter became the defensive coordinator at Florida.
The 50-year old Venables has been a prominent name among prospective candidates that Oklahoma was thought to be targeting to replace Lincoln Riley, who announced a week ago that he was leaving OU to become head coach at USC.
Venables served on the Oklahoma coaching staff from 1999 to 2011, as co-defensive coordinator from 1999-2003 and as defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011. He left Oklahoma to become defensive coordinator at Clemson after Mike Stoops, with whom Venables previously shared OU defensive responsibilities, returned to OU after being fired as head coach at Arizona.
In the decade he has been at Clemson, Venables has recruited and coached one of college football’s most dominant defenses. Under Venables’ leadership, the Clemson defense have consistently ranked as one of best college defenses statistically, including contributing to two national championships and six College Football Playoff appearances.
Venables won the Broyles Award in 2016 as the best assistant coach in college football. His reported salary of $2.5 million makes him the country’s highest paid assistant coach.
Venables has turned down several head-coaching opportunities in recent season, including the Auburn opening last season, opting instead to remain at Clemson.
ESPN is also reporting that if a deal is finalized with Venables to be the next head coach at OU, he would target Jeff Lebby, offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, to join him at Oklahoma.