NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – New OU head coach Brent Venables said the decision to come to coach at the University of Oklahoma was a “no brainer.”
Following Lincoln Riley’s departure for USC, several key OU players decided to enter the transfer portal or opted to not play in the Alamo Bowl to protect their NFL draft potential.
At the moment, many Sooner fans are wondering what the future holds for OU quarterback Caleb Williams.
“I have spoken to Caleb, reached out to him and his father yesterday. I’ll connect with his father here later,” he said.
While Williams is a high-profile player, Venables says that it is important to continue to recruit their players every day.
“The portal’s a very real thing with all of your players but I’ve always believed in continuing to nurture your relationships. Don’t get so caught up in the recruiting that you lose sight of what’s most important- what’s in your locker room cause that’s the lifeblood of your program,” he said.
Venables was asked about how he is able to recruit players, and calm their fears that he will be there for the long-haul.
“I have a career, almost 30 years, of being loyal. Just look at my career. If I’ve been something, I’ve been loyal. So I haven’t been a coach that’s jumped all over; taking this job to take this job to take this job. So I think that speaks for itself,” Venables said.
Venables says coming back to the Sooner State was an easy choice because of his past connections to the state, to Norman, to the university, and to the fans.
“You can’t fabricate family and it has felt so easy on so many levels, it really has. It’s just very hard to describe but it’s very real, very tangible,” he said.
Venables was asked to take ‘the OU part out of it,’ and describe why now is the right time to make the jump into head coaching, but Venables says OU was a big reason for that decision.
“I don’t think I can take OU out of it. I’ll be honest. That’s what was in it for me. I’ve had numerous opportunities throughout my career. Listen, I’m a simple guy. I value some things that maybe other people don’t, maybe more so. I value relationships, I value people. I value quality of life and I value simplicity. Just because you become the head coach doesn’t mean you can’t keep things simple. You control that narrative.”
“I am passionate about winning. I’m passionate about winning the right way and never compromising those values,” he added.
When it comes to recruiting, Venables says he understands the value that an offer from Oklahoma has on players.
“I think the way the landscape of recruiting in college football is a sooner rather than later mindset. Really the freshman or the sophomore doesn’t really understand what the scholarship is, they just want to know they got street cred with you, that you like them. That’s what an offer is. So to me, that’s devaluing the offer. So again, I think it goes back to that, having value on your offer. What it really means when you put your name as a program, as an organization, what you’re saying is, ‘This guy’s got it. All of it.’ Doesn’t mean that you’re never gonna make mistakes or misevaluate somebody, but if they don’t have the character component; if they don’t have the team first component; if they don’t have the mature component, all those things, keep going down that list of the intangibles, then we need to move on despite what everybody else is doing. It’s easy in this profession, in the recruiting world to just offer to offer and that’s not who we’re gonna be. When we offer somebody, we’ve actually seen an academic transcript. They’ve actually played a couple of years of high school football, varsity football. They possess the intrinsic qualities that we’re looking for that fit our culture and our values. If it’s somebody who’s not a team guy, no matter what his talent, that’s not us. We’re moving on. You don’t need that. You recruit your problems. So empowering our coaches in the evaluation process, it’s more whoa than go. That’s not the nature of college recruiting right now,” he said.
“They have the mega camps everywhere for example. You’re not gonna see, not as long as I’m here, the Oklahoma logo at the mega camps. If we gotta go to a mega camp in San Antonio to get you interested in Oklahoma, so you’re not gonna come to our campus and see us, to the Oklahoma camp on our campus, then you’re not coming here for three or four years anyway if it’s too much of an inconvenience. It’s kinda like Rolls-Royce. You don’t see Rolls-Royce commercials ever. Do you? You don’t see a commercial. And I’m not saying this in an egotistical way, but Oklahoma and it’s rich history, and tradition, and success takes a back seat to nobody. So we shouldn’t have to go across the country to the mega camps where there’s 600 kids and 30 colleges. You can’t really do a good evaluation to know them anyway. We don’t need to do that,” he added.
A popular topic on social media was Venables’ trip down memory lane and his choice for a late night dinner.
Venables said that he and his family visited the Gaylord Family- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium again, and had no idea that fans would be waiting for them when they arrived in Norman.
“We had a blast, like just a blast. You talk about going down memory lane and just some amazing memories. Our family was molded and shaped here. Just so many incredible influences. And then we’re going home, where we’re going to stay, and we are starving. So this was way after midnight and found Whataburger. Game changer. We don’t have one of those at Clemson so a triple cheeseburger later and some onion rings and we were in hog heaven,” Venables said.