When Brent Venables took the Oklahoma job back in December, he landed on the tarmac with his work boots on and lunch pail in hand.
Over the 23 seasons that he has spent as a defensive coordinator, Venables has picked up a few ideas on how he wants his own program to run, and taking pointers from legends like Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, and Dabo Swinney gives Venables a good base to work from.
But, at the end of the day, it all starts out with the same basic principles that all successful football programs exhibit: hard work and accountability.
“We’re starting over,” Venables said at the OU Coaches Caravan on Monday, per AllSooners.com. “We’re stripping this bad boy down to the studs.”
Venables knew that he had a lot of work to do when he agreed to become Oklahoma’s 23rd head football coach, but when he observed some of the Sooners’ practices in preparation for the Alamo Bowl against Oregon, he could tell that some things needed to change quickly.
“I saw too much casualness, if you will,” Venables said of the preparation for Oregon. “Too much on nonchalantness when I came in December to watch the team prepare for the bowl game.”
Bob Stoops stepped in as the interim head coach for Oklahoma’s bowl game while Venables transitioned into being the guy, but he did get in front of the team once before their bowl game, to make sure their heads were in the right place.
“We lost two heartbreakers, one-score games, could have went either way,” Venables recalled preaching to the team. “[The last] Coach decides he doesn’t want to be here? Okay. Good. Now, what do you want to do?
“We don’t need a program in disarray. … Y’all love this university. You all care for one another. You got a bunch of assistants to decide to go ahead and stay here and put it all in. You got a Hall of Fame coach is willing to put his neck on the line, make some sacrifice and come back here and lead y’all. So you got a chance right now to make a statement in college football.”
And the Sooners did just that, walloping a 10-3 Oregon team 47-32, leading by 31 at halftime before pulling off the gas a bit.
“We played really well, by the way. Yes, we did. We drug Oregon up and down the field, didn’t we? It was 34-3 at half,” Venables said.
After seeing what his team was capable of in the bowl game Venables was excited to get to work, as he said at the Coaches Caravan, throwing in a little joke at the previous regime’s expense.
“I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m the head coach now? Alright,’” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, where’s this team been all year?’ ”
All jokes aside, Venables’ passion bursts at the seams when he speaks on what he envisions his program will look like.
“I wanted to make sure you know,” he said, “just over the (last) five months that every opportunity we had to work out man drills, practice, meeting time — If we’re gonna be a championship program, how you do anything is how you do everything. And everything matters.
“It’s a privilege to put the Sooner uniform on. Your all’s job is to be prepared and to play with toughness and passion and intensity and discipline. You show the people how much you care by how you play.”