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.
While it's obvious that Bob Stoops cut off Martinez's head, he cut off Venables' legs. Venables' goal of becoming a head coach at a good school takes a severe beating with this move.
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.