NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Another couple of familiar faces are coming back to the University of Oklahoma.
After hiring Brent Venables as OU’s next head football coach, Venables made it clear that he planned to reshape the intensity of the program.
Last week, Venables announced that the Sooners will retain inside receivers coach Cale Gundy, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, tight ends coach Joe Jon Finley and running backs coach DeMarco Murray.
Oklahoma also officially announced the hires of Jeff Lebby as offensive coordinator and Ted Roof as defensive coordinator.
On Friday, Venables announced three more staff hires, including two coaches that had previously worked at OU.
Jerry Schmidt will return to Norman as the director of sports enhancement and strength and conditioning. Former defensive assistant Brandon Hall will be the Sooners’ new safeties coach, and former Clemson defensive assistant Miguel Chavis is going to coach OU’s defensive ends.
Jerry Schmidt led Oklahoma’s strength and conditioning efforts from 1999 to 2017 and most recently spent four years at Texas A&M.
“What immediately popped in my mind when I got the call from Brent is just how special OU is. I enjoyed my time (at Texas A&M) and in the SEC, but it wasn’t a hard decision for me to come back. I got the same feeling when Brent called me that I got when Bob (Stoops) called me to join him in Norman when he got hired. Because Brent’s like Bob. Brent’s reputation around the country is about toughness, and that’s what OU’s about – toughness, working hard. That’s what this whole state’s about. I just want to come back and be a part of it. Like I said, this place is very special. It’s about the great players who’ve been here, are here and are coming here, and their pursuit of championships. And I can feel it with the energetic staff he’s putting together and the commitment to doing things the right way. I’m excited OU’s going to the SEC because this program can definitely compete at that level. I’m looking forward to that challenge,” said Schmidt.
He has trained seven Heisman trophy winners and worked with 30 NFL first-round selections.
“That’s a critical hire on so many levels. Jerry’s values, expectations and standards align with mine and ours as a program. He’s a detail guy, is super consistent and tough, but he’s reasonable. He’s the same guy whether you’re winning by 40 or down by 14. I think it’s important from a leadership standpoint that we have someone who has clear vision about what all of that looks like. So while his experience is tremendous, he’s also an effective communicator and excellent motivator. He’s going to bring out the absolute best in our guys. He’ll stretch them and squeeze them in ways maybe they haven’t been before, but it’s going to benefit them and create the transferable skills both on the field and off. He’s going to set them up for success for the rest of their lives,” said Venables.
After word spread that Schmidt would return to the program, former OU superstars talked about their grueling experiences with the coach.
Brandon Hall has spent the last year as Troy’s outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Over his 20-year coaching career, he has coached linebackers, outside linebackers, safeties, and special teams units.
In Hall’s first season at Troy, the Trojans ranked third nationally in takeaways, 10th in sacks and 16th in tackles for loss. They also ranked fourth in net punting and ninth in kickoff returns.
In 1998 through 2000, Hall served as a student assistant at OU under Venables and Bob Stoops. He then served as a graduate assistant from 2001 to 2003, and a defensive quality control assistant from 2004 to 2005.
“Brandon is an Oklahoman and someone who worked with us for 10 years. He’s the epitome of what the coaching profession should be all about, as far as development, putting in the work, creating opportunities through relationships and sweat equity, figuring stuff out, being mentored, having humility and taking some chances. I’m really proud about his growth and development. He was one of the first people I met when I came to Oklahoma in 1999 when he was a student assistant. To see him continue to bloom at each of his stops has been really cool for me, all the way to being one of the best defensive coordinators in college football the last few years at Troy. He’s been a leader, he’s loyal, he’s tough, he’s smart, he’s really innovative and he connects well with the players. They’re in for a treat,” Venables said.
“When people talk about ‘going home,’ this is actually true in my case. I was born in Norman, so Oklahoma is a special place for me. I started my career here under Coach (Bob) Stoops, and both he and Coach Venables took a chance on me. They’re a big reason I’m here. I’ve always believed that your identity as a coach is your foundation, and my foundation is Coach Stoops and Coach Venables. I’ve been able to go out and develop my own style and develop as a coach and person, but to be able to come back and be a part of the OU tradition is something I can’t describe. Who I am as a coach and as a person has really been impacted by those two and how they approach the game – their aggressiveness, their tenacity and their standards. Coach Venables to me has always been about, ‘OK, this is the standard; this is how we’re going to operate and this is how we’re going to live.’ It’s impacted me not only as a coach but in my personal life as well. When he called and asked me to join him at OU, it really wasn’t a question for me. It was, ‘I’m in.’ This place is special to me. I’m going to do everything I can each day to live up to those expectations and standards, because if there’s anybody who understands them, it’s me. I’m looking forward to growing and being a part of it all. There are great, great things ahead for this program,” Hall said.
Miguel Chavis spent the past five years at Clemson with Venables, where he contributed to the defensive staff. He worked with Clemson’s defensive line and assisted in the off-field development of four NFL draft picks.
“Miguel is a great story. He’s a former player at Clemson who was recruited by Coach (Dabo) Swinney and went on to play in the NFL, but he’d probably be the first to tell you he thought he would play there a lot longer. After going back to school, getting his degree and becoming an ordained minister, he found his calling in coaching. He was a real blessing to me at Clemson in our room as we built that program – on defense, in particular. He’s very passionate, he’s intense, players love him. He’s very gifted as a coach, as a communicator, teacher and mentor. And he’s high on life. We have a lot of similarities, even in our journeys. These players are really fortunate with what they’re getting. He’s genuine and authentic and will connect with them. He’s got a unique way of pulling the best out of people – adults and young people alike. He’ll be a dynamic recruiter and a tenacious coach who will demand perfection. But he leads with optimism and love. That’s what I love about him,” Venables said.
“My family’s thankful to be here and excited for the opportunity. This is a dream job. As a football fan, I’ve always looked at about four schools as the cream of the crop – Clemson, OU, Alabama and Ohio State. All I knew about OU is I thought they were at the top of college football and that my mentor Brent Venables came from there. This is what I’ve been preparing for, even back to my playing days at Clemson. I’ve always loved coaching – always wanted to know the ‘why’ behind what we were doing, loved preparing in the NFL and appreciated the different schemes and philosophies. The past five years I’ve been attending the Brent Venables school of defense, and I was getting a Ph. D. I’m excited to be with the guys and develop them on and off the field. That’s my passion – to develop defensive ends into great players, but also into great men, great husbands, fathers and neighbors. And I get to do that through football. The fan base here is amazing and they have great energy. And that’s perfect because I’m a passionate guy, an energy guy who will also bring knowledge, toughness and excitement. I can’t wait. My biggest message to our current players is, ‘You didn’t choose me, but I chose you. I chose to be here and this is my dream job. And I’m excited and I’m ready,'” said Chavis.