Heupel or Venables?
For days, the question has been, who should replace Kevin Wilson as Oklahoma’s offensive play-caller, Jay Norvell or Josh Heupel.
Monday, Bob Stoops announced the 32-year-old Heupel will call the plays, and the 47-year-old Norvell will assist with the game planning as the co-offensive coordinator.
Now that that decision has been made, another question will begin to linger. Perhaps for years.
The Sooners have set in motion a trend of hiring coordinators from within. A trend that’s created stability within the program. A trend that continued Monday with Heupel’s and Norvell’s promotion.
So when Stoops finally decides to retire or take another job (hard to believe at this point he’d leave for another job), it’s not unreasonable to think the Sooners will replace him with an in-house assistant.
Up until now, Venables seemed to be the only Sooner assistant who could conceivably be handed the keys to the Sooner machine, which is one of the five best jobs in the country at the moment.
Venables has been with OU since Stoops came to Norman in 1999, and been his defensive coordinator since Mike Stoops left for Arizona in 2003. Under Bob Stoops, Venables has coordinator some terrific defenses, and while this current one wasn’t his best, the Sooners streaked at the right time of the year, with stellar outings in their final four games thanks to stellar game plans that spearheaded OU to another Big 12 Championship.
Venables is young (he turns 40 Saturday), incredibly hard-working and a phenomenal recruiter. Attributes the Sooners found when they hired Stoops more than a decade ago.
Heupel is considered a rising star on the OU staff, underscored by his promotion to play-caller despite his relative inexperience as a college coach. The Sooners did not want to lose Heupel to another school, which is something they would have risked by making Norvell the play-caller. Heupel is a wanted assistant, due to his wonderful work as a quarterbacks coach the last five years. He turned a WR into a Big 12 Championship QB. Tutored a Heisman Trophy winner. And has Landry Jones primed to enter the Heisman race next season after a season in which he was second in passing yards and third in touchdowns.
Heupel has some good ties, too. His sister married David Boren’s son.
And he has that magical title as the quarterback that led OU to restored glory. Venables was an assistant on that 2000 national title team, but it’s different when you’re the quarterback.
Venables is still the top in-house candidate to be OU’s next head coach.
But Heupel continues to gain ground.
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