Defensive coaches don't get a lot of opportunities anyway. Demoted defensive coaches get even fewer.
In the last few years, it became clear that if Stoops ever left, and OU decided to promote within, Venables would have been Candidate 1-A. Sharp, aggressive, personable. In many ways, the total package.
The Sooners have hit some in-house home runs. Bud Wilkinson, Chuck Fairbanks, Barry Switzer.
But that status now is gone for Venables. If the restructured staff works, and OU resumes its championship ways, Mike Stoops gets the lion's share of credit. Venables is the guy who had to step aside.
If the moves don't work, well, they don't work and the crimson portion of the state resorts to sackcloth and ashes.
For Venables to restore his previous reputation as a college football up-and-comer (in the past, he's drawn serious head-coach interest from the likes of Kansas State, his alma mater, and Arkansas), he's got to move on.
Go to a West Virginia. Go to a Clemson. Install Doberman defense, win some big games and catch a break.
Or he can stay at OU, and for all I know, that could make him happy, too. There's worse things than being a Sooner lifer. Merv Johnson experienced profound disappointment at never getting a good head-coaching offer, but 32 years after he arrived in Norman, he remains Mr. Sooner Emeritus, the bridge between two great eras of football and beloved by all.
I can't imagine Venables' wife and four kids, all born since 1999, being too excited about uprooting to Morgantown, W.Va., or Clemson, S.C. Nothing against those nifty college towns, but Norman is their life. Venables speaks often of how much he likes where he lives.
So Venables' future could come down to clear decisions. Career vs. family. Old friends vs. new disappointments. Old goals vs. new reality.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.