NORMAN — The original Dynamic Duo clearly had a pecking order. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were mentor/protégé.
And so are OU football's longest running Dynamic Duo. Bob Stoops' relationship with Brent Venables has changed mightily over the years, if for no other reason than the 40-year-old Venables no longer is the Boy Wonder.
But Stoops clearly is the mentor. He recruited Venables the linebacker to Kansas State 20 years ago. Stoops recruited Venables to become a K-State graduate assistant in 1993. Then Stoops hired Venables for the Sooner staff in December 1998.
“We've won a lot of games together,” Venables said. “Lot of championships together. Our families have grown up together.”
Stoops and Venables have been together 18 of the last 21 seasons. The only interruption came in 1996, when Stoops worked for Steve Spurrier at Florida and left Venables behind to work for – and live with – Mike Stoops.
So Venables is like an honorary brother in the Family Stoops.
“I've shared my highest highs, professionally speaking, and my lowest lows (family deaths), with his family,” Venables said.
The football results have been spectacular. They helped Bill Snyder build a miracle story at Kansas State, then at OU have produced a championship-caliber program. Venables stays in hot water with the Sooner crowd that doesn't appreciate quality defense in the 21st century, but OU's defenses have remained high-performing in his seven seasons as coordinator.
Stoops was a whiz as a defensive coordinator himself, at both KSU and Florida. So pleasing the boss who once had your job can be dicey.
“Sometimes you need to switch your staff up,” Stoops said. “But I've been pleased. We've had consistent success on both sides of the ball. It's been seamless no matter who we've lost.”
Four coaches remain from Stoops' original OU staff: Venables, Bobby Jack Wright, Jackie Shipp and Cale Gundy.
Stoops knew the latter three barely or not all upon their hiring. But Venables, he knew well, and Stoops now sees Venables as a virtual equal. Even if Venables doesn't see himself that way.