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Bob Stoops on New Oklahoma Coach Brent Venables: 'Absolute Perfect Fit for OU'

The Sooners' old coach says the Sooners' new coach has what it takes to lead the program to even greater heights.

LAS VEGAS — As he steps forever into the College Football Hall of Fame tonight, Bob Stoops had a moment to think about his protégée, new Sooners coach Brent Venables.

The word Stoops used to describe Venables and OU: Perfect.

“Yeah, I'm so excited,” Stoops said at a press conference before Tuesday night’s formal induction ceremony at the Aria Resort and Casino. “Brent's the absolute perfect fit for OU.”

Oklahoma has been very good under Lincoln Riley. But Stoops has said over and over there’s no reason the next coach can’t do better. Now that he knows it’s his old defensive coordinator — the “fifth Stoops brother” — he feels even better about that assertion.

“You've got to admit, what Clemson's done the last 10, 12, 15 years, they've been as good as anybody and better,” Stoops said. “So he'll bring fresh, new ideas I believe will help us. I think it's very real that he can make us better. So I'm excited for it and believe the players are, the program is. You know Brent, he'll be rolling fast.”

Brent Venables

Brent Venables

Stoops said as the Sooners’ interim head coach, he hasn’t worked out the details of who’s coaching who in the bowl game. It seems unlikely that Venables would do much other than recruit until after OU plays Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. But Stoops and Venables do have an unspoken shorthand — even if it is a bit rusty. They might be able to pull it off against the Ducks.

Still, the Sooners are short defensive coaches, as defensive coordinator and safeties coach Alex Grinch, cornerbacks coach Roy Manning and defensive end/outside linebackers coach Jamar Cain have all joined Riley’s staff at USC.

“We’ll get together when I get back (from recruiting) next week,” Stoops said, “and we'll decide how we want to work the preparation and who's going to call what.”

Venables is 50 now. Stoops is 61. They haven’t worked together for a decade. A lot of water has passed under that bridge.

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Bob Stoops and Brent Venables in 2005

Bob Stoops and Brent Venables in 2005

But in Venables’ case, it was time well spent, Stoops said. It reminded him of his three seasons spent at Florida working for Steve Spurrier.

“I was in such a great job,” Stoops said. “I wasn't going to take just any job. I was going to be patient.”

Stoops won a national title at Florida. Venables won two at Clemson.

“I think Brent's very wise,” Stoops said. “ … Brent was the top-paid assistant coach in the country, working with Dabo (Swinney), who's a great guy, they win all the time. Why leave? That was my feeling with coach Spurrier at Florida.

“But in my case, Oklahoma came calling. I was like, ‘This is the right one.’ Same with Brent. Oklahoma comes calling, that's as good as it gets and I think Brent was just waiting for the right opportunity.”

Venables has something Stoops didn’t when he was hired way back in December 1998: experiences at Oklahoma. Not just the football team, not just the school. His four kids were born in Norman. Now two of them are college football players.

“He's perfect for us,” Stoops said. “The right time, his experience. You look at, guy's been to eight national championships. I love his experience — not just with us, but at Clemson, seeing it at the best level. So he's going to bring us a lot, I think, to even improve us.

Stoops was in Las Vegas with family when Venables’ hire was announced on Sunday and when he was introduced on Monday. But Stoops was watching closely.

“I’ve only seen bits and pieces, obviously, because I'm here,” Stoops said. “Otherwise, I would've been there for sure with my arm around him, absolutely. But from what I've seen it was incredible. Fans are so excited. They did a great job with the presentation. He was awesome on stage, the parts I've seen. And that doesn't surprise me. He's got great passion for the game, for the program. He's going to be super for us.”