Venables Named Oklahoma’s 23rd Head Football Coach

NORMAN — A former 13-year University of Oklahoma assistant coach who won a national championship with the Sooners and two more with Clemson University during a highly successful 10-year stint as defensive coordinator, Brent Venables has been named OU’s 23rd head football coach, President Joseph Harroz Jr. and Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced Sunday evening.

Venables will be introduced at a celebration inside OU’s Everest Training Center Monday at 10:30 a.m. CT, and the public is invited. Everest Training Center is located one block east of Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

The 50-year-old Venables served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Oklahoma from 1999-2003 and as associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2004-11 under former head coach Bob Stoops. Venables has coached in eight national championship games between his time at OU and Clemson, winning titles with the Sooners in 2000 and Tigers in 2016 and 2018. In 26 years as a full-time assistant coach, Venables’ teams have 26 winning seasons, won 13 conference titles, have been to 30 bowl games (includes four College Football Playoff National Championship games) and won at least 10 games 21 times.

“This is a truly great day for Oklahoma — for our program, our current players, former players, recruits and fans.”
Joe Castiglione

Since joining Clemson prior to the 2012 season, Venables has constructed one of the nation’s top defenses. Over the last 10 years, the Tigers rank first nationally in sacks (445; next most is 392) and opponent third-down conversion percentage (30.2%), second in opponent pass efficiency rating (111.1) and takeaways (244; tied), third in scoring defense (17.8 ppg) and opponent completion percentage (53.3), fourth in total defense (311.4 ypg) and pass defense (190.5 ypg), fifth in interceptions (148) and sixth in rushing defense (120.9 ypg). They won conference titles each year from 2015-20.

Since 2000, Venables has coached eight national award winners and 16 consensus All-Americans. In that time, 57 defensive players under his guidance have been selected in the NFL Draft (12 first-rounders), including 15 linebackers, two of whom were first-round picks.

As a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Venables has produced winners of three Butkus Awards (OU’s Rocky Calmus in 2001 and Teddy Lehman in 2003, and CU’s Isaiah Simmons in 2019), two Nagurski Awards (OU’s Roy Williams in 2001 and Derrick Strait in 2003), two Thorpe Awards (Williams in 2001 and Strait in 2003) and one Bednarik Award (Lehman in 2003). And in 2018, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins became the school’s first winner of William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman.”

Venables has received national accolades for his coaching and recruiting. He received the Frank Broyles Award in 2016 as the nation’s top assistant coach after being named a finalist in 2015. He was named FootballScoop’s Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2014 and’s Recruiter of the Year in 2015.

Venables’ defensive units have been remarkably consistent over the last decade. Each of the last eight Clemson defenses have ranked in the top 15 nationally in yards allowed and seven of the last eight have ranked in the top 20 in points allowed. Over the last eight years, his units have ranked first (in 2014), 10th, eighth, fourth, fifth, sixth, 15th and ninth (this season) in total defense. Additionally, his units ranked first or second in the ACC in total defense each of the last eight years (ranked first in six of those seasons).

Under Venables’ tutelage this year, Clemson ranks second nationally in scoring defense (15.0 ppg) and red zone defense (62.1 conversion percentage), fourth in sacks (3.4 per game), eighth in rushing defense (98.8 ypg) and ninth in total defense (308.4 ypg).

Venables’ 2020 Clemson defense tied for the national lead with 46 sacks, despite no player producing more than 4.5 sacks individually. His 2019 unit allowed fewer than 300 yards of total offense in each of its first 12 games of the season, the first defense nationally since at least 1996 to accomplish that feat. Clemson held 16 straight opponents to 20 or fewer points across the 2018-19 seasons, the best streak at the school since the 1937-40 seasons.

Clemson’s 2018 squad led the nation in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) for the first time in school history and set a program record by recording 54 sacks.

Venables’ Clemson defenses have ranked among the top 10 nationally in sacks each year since 2014 and ranked in the top 10 in tackles for loss from 2013-20. The units led the nation in TFLs every year from 2013-16. The Tigers also ranked among the top 50 nationally in takeaways in each of his 10 seasons.

“There’s no question we are equipped to compete at the very highest level and attract the best players from across the country. The OU logo has never been stronger.”
Brent Venables

From 1999-2011, Venables helped Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship, three other national championship game appearances (2003, ’04 and ’08) and seven Big 12 titles. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2006 when the Sooners led the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense.

OU linebackers under Venables’ direction earned three Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year awards, five Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year accolades and six first-team All-America honors. Ten of his OU linebackers – and 31 Sooner defensive players overall – were taken in the 2000-12 NFL Drafts.

While Venables was at Oklahoma, the Sooners ranked among the top 16 nationally in total defense eight times (including each year from 2000-06) and among the top 20 in scoring defense eight times. OU led the Big 12 in scoring defense on four occasions (2000, ’04, ’06, ’11) and topped the league in total defense three times (2003, ’04, ’06).

Prior to joining Stoops’ first staff at Oklahoma, Venables coached linebackers at Kansas State (1996-98), holding the title of defensive running game coordinator in 1998, and served as a graduate assistant at K-State under Bill Snyder from 1993-95.

As a player at Kansas State (1991-92), Venables earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors in 1992 after registering 124 tackles. He began his collegiate playing career at Garden City (Kan.) Community College (1989-90), where he earned All-America honors after recording 276 tackles.

A native of Salina, Kan., Venables received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kansas State in 1992. He and his wife Julie have four children: sons Jake and Tyler and daughters Delaney and Addison.


OU President Joseph Harroz Jr.

“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 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. Brent is committed to excellence on and off the field — to ensuring that his players succeed as athletes, students and individuals. With his years of experience in building up teams and winning championships, I have high confidence in the unlimited potential of our program under his leadership. He knows what OU football is all about because he’s lived it, and there’s no doubt he is up to the task. We’re thrilled to welcome him, his wife, and their children Jake, Tyler, Laney and Addie home to OU.”

OU Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione

“This is a truly great day for Oklahoma — for our program, our current players, former players, recruits and fans. Coach Venables is a proven winner who over the years has helped his teams earn 13 conference championships and three national titles, and has developed one of the country’s consistently best defenses. A born leader, he helped build and sustain an exceptional culture during his 13 years here at Oklahoma and his 10 seasons at Clemson. 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. We couldn’t be more excited for Brent to return to OU as our head coach and for him, his wife Julie and their children Jake, Tyler, Laney and Addie to call Norman home again.”

New OU Head Coach Brent Venables:

“This is an incredibly special opportunity. Julie and I and our family are extremely grateful for the belief in us — and certainly in me — to be the next head coach at Oklahoma, one of the winningest and most tradition-rich programs in college football history. Our memories from Norman, where all four of our children were born, have been nothing but great. We’re looking forward to making another decade-plus of incredible memories as we transition to a new era of Oklahoma football, especially with the opportunity and the challenge to join the SEC, the premier conference in all of college football. Joe Castiglione, President Harroz and the Board of Regents have given us incredible support that equals the best of the best in our sport. There’s no question we are equipped to compete at the very highest level and attract the best players from across the country. The OU logo has never been stronger.”

Interim Head Coach Bob Stoops

“Brent was a major part of our 2000 national championship team here at OU, won two national titles at Clemson and, all told, has coached in eight national championship games. He knows the formula to win national championships and has the toughness, the attitude and the fight that I think will elevate our program in a lot of positive ways. I’ve always loved his energy, excitement and passion for the game — it clearly spills over to his players. He has the absolute right experience to come in at this time and really boost our program. With 13 years here at OU and 10 at Clemson, you couldn’t ask for better preparation to handle a job like this and handle it well. He’s taking over a 10-2 team that has so much more potential, and the bottom line is he’s the perfect guy to get us to the next level. He has an incredible support system with his wife Julie and his children, and it’ll be great having them back leading the program.”

Former Kansa State Head Coach Bill Snyder

“I am so very proud of Joe Castiglione for hiring a truly special Wildcat in Brent Venables. Brent and Bob Stoops started their Division I careers with me at Kansas State and were principal figures in the university’s lengthy successes. Like Bob, Brent is dedicated to the growth and development of young student-athletes. He is extremely knowledgeable, a strong leader, a hard worker and committed to daily improvement and the highest degree of success. Having experienced several Division I national championships, he knows the path. Brent is also a caring family man to his wife Julie and their four children, and his gracious parents Ron and Nancy. OU will continue to be highly successful under his guidance with the aid of Joe Castiglione and Bob. I’m so very proud of each of them.”

Brent Venables Year-by-Year
Year Team Position Record Bowl
1993 Kansas State Graduate Assistant 9-2-1 Copper
1994 Kansas State Graduate Assistant 9-3 Aloha
1995 Kansas State Graduate Assistant 10-2 Holiday
1996 Kansas State Linebackers 9-3 Cotton
1997 Kansas State Linebackers 11-1 Fiesta
1998 Kansas State Linebackers/Def. Run Game Coord. 11-2 Alamo
1999 Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator/LBs 7-5 Independence
2000 Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator/LBs 13-0# Orange*
2001 Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator/LBs 11-2 Cotton
2002 Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator/LBs 12-2 Rose
2003 Oklahoma Co-Defensive Coordinator/LBs 12-2 Sugar*
2004 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 12-1 Orange*
2005 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 8-4 Holiday
2006 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 11-3 Fiesta
2007 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 11-3 Fiesta
2008 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 12-2 BCS Championship*
2009 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 8-5 Sun
2010 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 12-2 Fiesta
2011 Oklahoma Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 10-3 Insight
2012 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 11-2 Chick-fil-A
2013 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 11-2 Orange
2014 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 10-3 Russell Athletic
2015 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 14-1 Orange, CFPNCG*
2016 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 14-1# Fiesta, CFPNCG*
2017 Clemson Defensive Coordinator/LBs 12-2 Sugar^
2018 Clemson Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 15-0# Cotton, CFPNCG*
2019 Clemson Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 14-1 Fiesta, CFPNCG*
2020 Clemson Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 10-2 Sugar^
2021 Clemson Assoc. Head Coach/Def. Coord./LBs 9-3 Cheez-It

# National Champion

* National Championship Game 

^ College Football Playoff semifinal 

Record as assistant coach: 290-57 (.836)

Three national titles (1 at Oklahoma, 2 at Clemson)

Eight national championship game appearances (4 at Oklahoma, 4 at Clemson)

13 conference titles (7 at Oklahoma, 6 at Clemson) Venables Named Oklahoma’s 23rd Head Football Coach

Huynh Nguyen

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