Oklahoma Sooners

Brent Venables Turned Down Florida State, Auburn in Years Before Taking Oklahoma Job

ESPN’s David Hale published an article last week titled, “Brent Venables’ purpose was created by pain, and now he’s using it to shape Oklahoma” (Paid Content) and in it Hale dives into what makes Brent Venables a unique and interesting first-time coach for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Among the stories of Venables childhood and 29 years of collegiate coaching experience, an interesting nugget of information from the previous two football seasons dropped out of the story.


Following the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Venables turned down the Florida State (2019) and Auburn (2020) jobs before leaving his perch at Clemson to take the Oklahoma job.

“Venables had been a hot commodity during coaching searches for nearly a decade, but he rarely gave an opening much thought,” Hale wrote. “There was a point, said Venables’ oldest son, Jake, when the family had all but given up on the idea he might one day make the leap. But every so often, a job would open, and Venables would gather the family in the living room to talk through the pros and cons. Florida State called a few years back, but that didn’t feel right. Then there was Auburn after the 2020 season. That one seemed promising. They put it to a vote. The family voted in favor of taking the gig. Venables voted against it.”

Jake Venables, Brent’s son, told ESPN that everyone was onboard with him taking the Auburn job, but dad wasn’t fully committed to the idea.


“It was a majority kind of thing, and we’re saying, ‘Wait, you’re not taking this one, either? We thought this is what you wanted.'”

Then, the Oklahoma job opened up and Venables saw a mountain that he felt was worth the climb. The Auburn and Florida State jobs were fine, but Venables had become the highest-paid coordinator in college football. He had no desire to leave Clemson, the place where he had accomplished dreams. But Oklahoma was bigger than a dream.

“That was a giant,” Venables said of taking the Oklahoma job. “And you’ve got to chase your giants too. And even when the opportunity is right there, you’ve still got to step through the door. Sometimes, you need to kick it in.”


Now, after Venables kicked in the door at Oklahoma, the Sooners’ staff, players, and fans are 100% bought in and excited for the future. Sure, Venables will be graded on the same scale that all coaches are, and that is by winning games. At a place like Oklahoma he will be expected to win a lot of them, and he is well aware of that.

“Nobody’s expectation can exceed my own,” Venables says of his Sooners’ projections for the 2022 season. “No fan base. No history. None.”

Oklahoma will officially start the Brent Venables era, and the 2022 season, against UTEP on Sept. 3 in Norman.

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