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Brent Venables' best career move might be leaving Sooners

by Berry Tramel Published: January 12, 2012

Well, West Virginia, that's not very sporting. We go and invite you into our league, and now you're raiding our football staffs.

Joe DeForest, in some ways a Stillwater institution, gone to join up with old pal Dana Holgorsen.

Brent Venables, 13 years on the Sooner staff, approached about being Holgorsen's defensive chief. And Clemson reportedly also smelling fresh meat, on the prowl for Venables.

Which is not how Bob Stoops wanted this staff upheaval to go down. Stoops, without a coaching dismissal in his Oklahoma reign, tried to gently cut defensive backfield coach Willie Martinez. Gave Martinez time to find another job and step away gracefully.

But the truth has become painfully apparent, even from the lips of Mike Stoops himself. Bob's brother is coming back, and he won't be coaching tight ends.

Mike Stoops will take over the defensive backs and, despite what shell games are played with titles, be the primo defensive coordinator, just as he was from 1999 through 2003.

Leaving Martinez twisting in the wind and Venables with a very tough decision to make. Does Venables accept a demotion to stay in what has become the only home his four children have ever known, or does he seek to revive his wounded football career with adventures elsewhere?

Bob Stoops hopes for the former with Venables. He wants Venables to stick around. Get the old gang together. Try to recreate the Camelot of 2000.

Maybe even give Venables a big bump in pay as enticement to stay. You'd think at some point, a beancounter with influence would say, whoa. Demoting a guy but giving him a hefty raise? But such protests won't happen, not with this level of college football. What a country.

Trying to turn back the clock is dicey. The Stoopses, Venables, you, me, none of us are like we were a decade ago.

Chemistry is a delicate creature. Staff morale was not an issue in 1999. Everyone on Stoops' staff was gung-ho. Like they had just arrived at the Cherokee Strip border, ready for the Land Run.

Morale can't help but be an issue if Venables stays. In some ways, the Sooners might be better off if Venables left. It would make for a much cleaner transition.

Again, that's not what Bob Stoops wants. Stoops likes Venables. I dare say loves Venables. He just loves his brother more, and we're talking football here. Which makes Stoops just like the OU legions, who have been screaming “Bring Back Mike! Bring Back Mike!” after Arizona fired Bob's brother in October.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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