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Official Press Release: Brent Venables Named Oklahoma Coach

The University of Oklahoma issued a press release after landing the Clemson defensive coordinator and former Sooners defensive coach.

A former 13-year University of Oklahoma assistant coach who won a national championship with the Sooners and two more with Clemson University during a highly successful 10-year stint as defensive coordinator, Brent Venables has been named OU’s 23rd head football coach, President Joseph Harroz Jr. and Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced Sunday evening.

Venables will be introduced at a celebration inside OU’s Everest Training Center Monday at 10:30 a.m. CT, and the public is invited. Everest Training Center is located one block east of Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.

The 50-year-old Venables served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Oklahoma from 1999-2003 and as associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2004-11 under former head coach Bob Stoops. Venables has coached in eight national championship games between his time at OU and Clemson, winning titles with the Sooners in 2000 and Tigers in 2016 and 2018. In 26 years as a full-time assistant coach, Venables’ teams have 26 winning seasons, won 13 conference titles, have been to 30 bowl games (includes four College Football Playoff National Championship games) and won at least 10 games 21 times.

Since joining Clemson prior to the 2012 season, Venables has constructed one of the nation’s top defenses. Over the last 10 years, the Tigers rank first nationally in sacks (445; next most is 392) and opponent third-down conversion percentage (30.2%), second in opponent pass efficiency rating (111.1) and takeaways (244; tied), third in scoring defense (17.8 ppg) and opponent completion percentage (53.3), fourth in total defense (311.4 ypg) and pass defense (190.5 ypg), fifth in interceptions (148) and sixth in rushing defense (120.9 ypg). They won conference titles each year from 2015-20.

Since 2000, Venables has coached eight national award winners and 16 consensus All-Americans. In that time, 57 defensive players under his guidance have been selected in the NFL Draft (12 first-rounders), including 15 linebackers, two of whom were first-round picks.

As a defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Venables has produced winners of three Butkus Awards (OU’s Rocky Calmus in 2001 and Teddy Lehman in 2003, and CU’s Isaiah Simmons in 2019), two Nagurski Awards (OU’s Roy Williams in 2001 and Derrick Strait in 2003), two Thorpe Awards (Williams in 2001 and Strait in 2003) and one Bednarik Award (Lehman in 2003). And in 2018, Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins became the school’s first winner of William V. Campbell Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman.”

Venables has received national accolades for his coaching and recruiting. He received the Frank Broyles Award in 2016 as the nation’s top assistant coach after being named a finalist in 2015. He was named FootballScoop’s Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2014 and’s Recruiter of the Year in 2015.

Venables’ defensive units have been remarkably consistent over the last decade. Each of the last eight Clemson defenses have ranked in the top 15 nationally in yards allowed and seven of the last eight have ranked in the top 20 in points allowed. Over the last eight years, his units have ranked first (in 2014), 10th, eighth, fourth, fifth, sixth, 15th and ninth (this season) in total defense. Additionally, his units ranked first or second in the ACC in total defense each of the last eight years (ranked first in six of those seasons).

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Under Venables’ tutelage this year, Clemson ranks second nationally in scoring defense (15.0 ppg) and red zone defense (62.1 conversion percentage), fourth in sacks (3.4 per game), eighth in rushing defense (98.8 ypg) and ninth in total defense (308.4 ypg).

Venables’ 2020 Clemson defense tied for the national lead with 46 sacks, despite no player producing more than 4.5 sacks individually. His 2019 unit allowed fewer than 300 yards of total offense in each of its first 12 games of the season, the first defense nationally since at least 1996 to accomplish that feat. Clemson held 16 straight opponents to 20 or fewer points across the 2018-19 seasons, the best streak at the school since the 1937-40 seasons.

Clemson’s 2018 squad led the nation in scoring defense (13.1 ppg) for the first time in school history and set a program record by recording 54 sacks.

Venables’ Clemson defenses have ranked among the top 10 nationally in sacks each year since 2014 and ranked in the top 10 in tackles for loss from 2013-20. The units led the nation in TFLs every year from 2013-16. The Tigers also ranked among the top 50 nationally in takeaways in each of his 10 seasons.

From 1999-2011, Venables helped Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship, three other national championship game appearances (2003, ’04 and ’08) and seven Big 12 titles. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2006 when the Sooners led the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense.

OU linebackers under Venables’ direction earned three Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year awards, five Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year accolades and six first-team All-America honors. Ten of his OU linebackers – and 31 Sooner defensive players overall – were taken in the 2000-12 NFL Drafts.

While Venables was at Oklahoma, the Sooners ranked among the top 16 nationally in total defense eight times (including each year from 2000-06) and among the top 20 in scoring defense eight times. OU led the Big 12 in scoring defense on four occasions (2000, ’04, ’06, ’11) and topped the league in total defense three times (2003, ’04, ’06).

Prior to joining Stoops’ first staff at Oklahoma, Venables coached linebackers at Kansas State (1996-98), holding the title of defensive running game coordinator in 1998, and served as a graduate assistant at K-State under Bill Snyder from 1993-95.

As a player at Kansas State (1991-92), Venables earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors in 1992 after registering 124 tackles. He began his collegiate playing career at Garden City (Kan.) Community College (1989-90), where he earned All-America honors after recording 276 tackles.

A native of Salina, Kan., Venables received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kansas State in 1992. He and his wife Julie have four children: sons Jake and Tyler and daughters Delaney and Addison.