What started with a whirlwind of rumors and speculation over the weekend became official late Wednesday night when Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables confirmed that he was in fact taking the defensive coordinator job at Clemson. Now what was supposed to be a reunion with Mike Stoops has become a bit of a fiasco of speculation as to why Venables would leave the place he's called home since 1999 for a new gig in a new conference.
While we may never know the true answer to that question the thing that we do know is that Brent Venables' departure from the Oklahoma coaching staff will have a significant impact.
Brent Venables was a good defensive coordinator. Was he perfect? No. Did he have tendencies that seemed to get a bit old and a bit predictable? Yep. However, there were a lot more good defenses under Venables then there were bad ones. He may be remembered for the 2011 defense because it was the last one he coached at Oklahoma but his legacy is much stronger than this last season. He had a great defense in 2008 and in 2009 along with some other defenses and defensive performances that were pretty salty.
Venables was a great linebackers coach! Since coming to Oklahoma in 1999 he has coached Rocky Calmus, Teddy Lehman, Rufus Alexander and Curtis Loftin to be All Americans. Both Calmus and Lehman were two time All Americans. In addition, he's had 11 linebackers named as First Team All Conference selections during that same time span.
Venables was a fantastic recruiter! In Oklahoma's 2012 Venables was the lead recruiter on four star commitment Eric Striker and three star commitment Daniel Brooks. He was also the lead recruiter on five other four star recruits including defensive back Brandon Beaver who is scheduled to make an official visit to OU this weekend.
Most people (I'm one of them) have confidence in Mike Stoops to come up with a solid defensive game plan week in and week out. He has a proven track record and while all of his earlier success at Oklahoma was tied to Venables as the co-coordinator he still has a solid enough reputation as one of the top defensive coaches in the nation.
What we don't know is who will fill the void as the linebacker's coach and top recruiter. I honestly don't see anyone currently on the staff who is capable of standing in the gap. Don't get me wrong. There are some great recruiters on this staff and some outstanding position coaches as well. I just don't see the being a guy who could step in and immediately be who Venables was to Oklahoma.