Focus on family keeps Sooner assistants at home

By Jake Trotter Modified: August 22, 2008 at 12:45 am •  Published: August 22, 2008
NORMAN — Following the 1998 season, Brent Venables faced a difficult decision.

Should he stay at his alma mater Kansas State, which had reeled off back-to-back 11-win seasons under coach Bill Snyder?


Or take a chance and follow Bob Stoops to Oklahoma, coming off three-straight losing seasons?

"I didn't know what to do,” Venables recalled. "I'm asking guys on my own staff who aren't coming, ‘What do I do?'

"The reason I left was because I knew I was going to be with coach Stoops. I knew we were going to win.”

Today, one national title and five Big 12 Championships later, Venables is still with Stoops.

Winning football, competitive compensation and family atmosphere are reasons why OU has experienced unrivaled continuity on its assistant coaching staff.

"I like to think I have a pretty good balance on how we work and how we include our families,” said Stoops, who has three young kids. "It's hard to beat that when you can include them and also have success. Success-wise and financially, they've done well. Those are all important factors in everybody's assessment of jobs.”

Few schools in the nation have had the consistent success the Sooners have produced, having won at least 11 games in all but two of Stoops' seasons.

And OU has the fourth-best assistant coaching payroll in the Big 12, with Venables being among the league's top-paid assistants.

Those are big reasons why no assistant has been fired and why only five assistants have left for jobs that weren't head-coaching positions. One of those, Jay Norvell, returned to Norman this year to be OU's wide receivers coach.

"I've been in the NFL, different programs, and this is a special place because Bob makes it that way,” said Norvell, who played college football with Stoops at Iowa.

Six former assistants (Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Mike Stoops, Chuck Long, Kevin Sumlin and Bo Pelini) are now head coaches, underscoring Stoops' track record of hiring quality assistants.

"The way Bob does things and the way the University of Oklahoma is really sets the standard for coaching,” said Sumlin, who's entering his first year at Houston after spending the last five seasons as an assistant at OU.

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