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.
“I don't know how to describe it,” Stoops said. “We're good friends. Probably in his eyes, I'm more the coach or the mentor. But after working side by side all those years, you figure you become more as comrades.”
Venables buys into that a little, but he also expresses enormous admiration for Stoops. Still sees his boss, in some ways, as the guy who lured him to Kansas State and into coaching.
“I know this, I have incredible respect for him, the kind of man he is,” Venables said. “He's helped me learn as a coach, how he's handled adversity, the strength he exudes every day.”
Venables said he and Stoops have a common value system.
“We have a strong belief system that's very similar in regards to discipline,” Venables said. “Incredibly demanding, but at the same time understanding.”
The Stoops/Venables tandem will end some day. Probably with Venables becoming a head coach. But he's turned down some inquiries and said he will learn from his mentor/boss/friend, who waited on the right job.
“If he's taught me anything, it's patience,” Venables said. “All I know is, I love what I'm doing and I love what we're doing.”
And so the Dynamic Duo continues. It could even threaten the 17-year Bud Wilkinson/Gomer Jones relationship, the longest for a head coach and assistant coach in OU history.
Mentor/protégé, brother-like friends and football coaches who have the Sooners riding high.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at
The longest tenures for a head coach/assistant coach combination in OU history:
17 years: Bud Wilkinson & Gomer Jones, 1947-63.
16 years: Barry Switzer & Bobby Proctor, 1973-88.
13 years: Bob Stoops & Brent Venables, Bobby Jack Wright, Cale Gundy and Jackie Shipp, and Barry Switzer & Lucious Selmon.