Brent Venables has emerged as the leading candidate to become the next Oklahoma football coach, sources confirmed to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Venables, a former Sooners assistant, would return to Norman after 10 years as Clemson defensive coordinator, including four as as associate head coach under Dabo Swinney.
Venables is targeting Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to oversee the offense, according to multiple reports.
If hired to coach Oklahoma, Venables would replace Lincoln Riley, who became the first Sooners coach to leave for another college opportunity since 1946 when he accepted the same job at USC.
Venables spent 13 years as defensive coordinator and associate head coach at Oklahoma under legendary coach Bob Stoops. He served as co-defensive coordinator on the 2000 national championship team as his defense suffocated Florida State to the tune of 13-2 for Oklahoma’s most recent title.
Clemson has become a defensive juggernaut under Venables’ leadership. The Tigers rank No. 9 in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense and have remained ruthlessly consistent despite major injuries during a 9-3 campaign. Venables has sent eight defensive players to the first round of the NFL Draft at Clemson, with cornerback Andrew Booth projected to join them this year.
Venables has repeatedly been mentioned for head coaching jobs in the past, most notably when Bill Snyder retired from his alma mater of Kansas State. Venables, however, has deep ties to Oklahoma — and the Stoops family — that make this particular opportunity different.
The 50-year-old Venables would be the fourth consecutive Oklahoma head coached hired without any head coaching experience. Still, the Sooners have achieved 14 conference championships, 15 top 10 finishes and a national championship over that period. Venables would take over a Sooners program that has finished top 10 each of the past six years, including a 10-2 season in 2021.