Oklahoma Sooners set to hire Clemson DC Brent Venables to replace Lincoln Riley
The Oklahoma Sooners found themselves looking for a new coach when Lincoln Riley shocked the college football world by bolting for USC. It looks like the coaching search has come to an end, with the Sooners zeroing in on Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, according to ESPN’s Chris Low.
The deal is reportedly expected to be finalized on Sunday.
Venables has a history with Oklahoma. The assistant coached under Sooners legend Bob Stoops from 1999 to 2011 and was a finalist for the Broyles Award (top assistant coach) in 2006.
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Venables left Norman for Clemson in 2012 to be the defensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney. While the Tigers weren’t quite as dominant overall this season (9-3) as in past years, they still had a strong defense. And, of course, Clemson has been one of the best programs in the country with Swinney at the helm, winning two College Football Playoff National Championships and losing two others.
The 50-year-old won that Broyles Award in 2016. Venables has turned down other head coaching offers to stay at Clemson, where he has been one of the highest-paid assistants in college football, but it appears this job at Oklahoma was too good to pass up.
If this deal does indeed come to fruition, Venables reportedly hopes to poach Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who spent four years as a student assistant at Oklahoma after suffering a career-ending injury. Lebby has been up for the Broyles Award the past two seasons.
The Sooners went 10-2 this season under Riley, with Caleb Williams taking over for Spencer Rattler as the starting quarterback. Rattler has already entered the transfer portal, and it’s unclear if Williams will follow Riley to USC.