If you've been even a casual fan of the Oklahoma Sooners football team for the last 13+ years or you are even just vaguely familiar with Bob Stoops, you know there are two steadfast rules associated with the man.
Rule #1 - You do not question Bob Stoops.
Rule #2 - You do NOT question Bob Stoops.
It applies to fans. It applies to the media. It applies when he tells Jamarkus McFarland and his family that he wants to watch Barbershop 2. I could go on and on, so let's just say it's a universal rule.
So it's with great trepidation that I type this as my OU fan card is very much in jeopardy, but the news of Brent Venables decision to accept the Clemson defensive coordinator's job late last night has forced me to break the two rules of Bob Stoops.
I thought Matt did a great job last night touching on all the relevant topics Venables departure creates, so I'm going to try hard not to just regurgitate his same points.
Contrary to what some of you out there who have read what I do here at CCM, I do not think I know more about football or coaching than Bob Stoops nor do I believe him to be a stupid man. To that point, I do not believe that Bob failed to consider what went down last night to be a possibility when he chose to bring his brother, Mike Stoops, back on staff.
Now while I firmly believe he considered it, I also think he believed that Venables had been here a long time, they're good friends, he's a loyal guy, so even if someone came calling Bob could probably get him a raise and convince him to stay. In my mind, that all changed when this thing dragged on for several days after Venables' return to Norman this past Sunday. At that point, from the outside looking in, it appears as if Bob is working to try and get him to stay and Venables can't make up his mind. Understandably of course, it's a hard decision to leave somewhere you've been for 13+ years and the relationships you've formed with co-workers and within the community. However, at the end of the day it's ultimately a business and Venables just made a business decision.
As disappointed as I am with the end result, I'm going to swallow my bitterness and do the right thing by thanking Brent for his time here and wishing him success at Clemson.
Now, on to the crux of the matter. Bob's plan to replace Brent Venables. Again, Matt did a great job of pointing out the fact that many OU fans had their issues with Venables as a DC but the cold hard facts are Oklahoma is losing an outstanding position coach and an even better recruiter. So in the eyes of this OU fan, or forever how long they let me be an OU fan after questioning the almighty one, Bob better have a damn good plan in mind for a replacement.
In the span of several weeks, Bob has fired the first coach ever from his staff in his 13+ years as a head coach (Bob would tell you differently, but then he'd just be lying to you and himself) and lost his good friend and most tenured coach due to what I'm sure at least a few people out there would call nepotism (or at least something resembling it). If, as some claim, Venables is leaving because of the "perception" that he was being demoted when Mike Stoops came back then the "perception" publicly of this program right now is one of possibly severe instability in my opinion. I think you could legitimately make the argument that if Mike Stoops isn't back on staff that Clemson never comes after Venables and this is all a non-issue.
So I think the obvious issue is was bringing back Mike Stoops worth it?
I don't want to exaggerate the importance of this hire, but it's a pretty damn big one in my mind. This cannot, I repeat CANNOT, be a situation where Bob goes out and hires one of his cronies/good friends because they "grew up/knew each other back in Ohio/Iowa." We need a dynamic recruiter who also just so happens to be a quality football coach and those don't necessarily grow on trees. My fear is that getting someone who is Venables equal on both those fronts is pretty doubtful, so you're going to be forced to "settle" and the prospect of doing that for this OU fan is a monumental failure before the search for a replacement even starts.
To echo what Matt said, I'm not nor would I ever claim that Brent Venables was a perfect coach. Heck, at times I was probably one of his harshest critics. But I immediately warmed to the idea of him and Mike Stoops working in tandem on this defense and how successful of a situation it seemed to put the Oklahoma defense in for the coming year/s. Then this happens and suddenly everything gets turned upside down and things feel in total disarray all over again.
So I'll say it again if for nothing else than emphasis. I hope Bob Stoops has a pretty damn good plan because he just lost a significant contributor to this coaching staff who is most definitely not going to be easy to replace. Maybe he has the perfect guy just waiting in the wings and we don't know it yet. Trust me, I'd welcome anyone here to be calling me out next week or whenever they hire someone, calling me an idiot for ever questioning the man after Bob hires a perfect replacement. I'm just not sure I see that guy out there. Admittedly, I'm not an expert or anything close to that on all the assistant coaches in D-I college football, but I do know that not a single name that has been mentioned as a possible replacement has excited me. I'll reserve judgment until after a hire is made, but after what we've witnessed these past several months both on and off the field I think anyone who isn't at least a little bit skeptical right now needs to take off their crimson colored glasses.