Like It or Not, Brent Venables’ Approach to Recruiting is the Right Way to Do It
When Oklahoma’s previous coach left in November of 2021, the narrative that followed was that the Sooners’ recruiting success was dead in the water. Heading into the month of August, that couldn’t be further from the truth as Oklahoma currently holds the No. 6 class for 2023 and look to be in position to secure a top five class, something that the previous regime did just once (2019).
Over the weekend, Unnecessary Roughness, a college football podcast affiliated with Barstool Sports, posted a video clip of head coach Brent Venables at the podium that happened earlier this offseason. In the video, Venables talks about the word “commitment” and what it means, and should mean, it the world of recruiting.
“There are a lot of flaws in taking a commitment, making a reservation and then going and doing your thing,” Venables said. “How can I manage a roster or who else I have to offer if I have nine guys committed but they are going to Bama, Georgia, LSU and A&M? How can I manage? How can I take commitments when I don’t know what my numbers are?
“I don’t want a guy to commit. Do not commit. ‘Hey coach, I’m ready to commit.’ ‘Hey buddy, here’s what commitment looks like now.’ I want to make sure you know, that you know, that you know, that you know, so when I say, ‘Will you marry me?’ and you say, ‘Yes,’ we get married and we start off on the right foot, not like I dated four or five women and all of a sudden we’re feeling some kind of way. Is someone actually going to show up?”
Venables is passionate in this clip, as he is with anything, and his words have seemingly been misconstrued by several members of local and national media.
Over the weekend, Oklahoma hosted the “Party at the Palace,” a major recruiting event in Norman that was seemingly very successful. One of the attending recruits was five-star safety, and Notre Dame “commit,” Peyton Bowen. Because Bowen is committed to the Fighting Irish, many people pointed at Venables words and promptly claimed him to be a hypocrite.
Well, if you actually listen to what Venables is trying to say, it becomes clear that his words stand true and he is doing things the right way.
In this particular instance, Notre Dame is watching one of it’s top commitments take visits to Oklahoma and Texas A&M. By Venables standards, that means that Bowen isn’t “committed” to Notre Dame. If he was, he would’ve stayed home and been content with what he has in South Bend.
Instead, the five-star talent is touring other programs and seeing what they have to offer, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as the player realizes that he isn’t truly committed when that is going on.
Venables has been open about saying that there is nothing wrong with taking visits and expands on the idea, in the same exact press conference of the clip above, and further explains his idea of commitment.
“We could sit here and try to diminish that whole process,” Venables continued. “I’m just saying, we’re trying to be the example. We’re trying to do it the right way.
“So it’s not like we’re trying to get all these commitments and not let them go see places. I tell them, ‘Go see as many places as you can. Save us for last.’
“We’re not trying to force anybody to commit. I would never do that. I’ve got too much respect for the enormity of the decision.
“Do people change minds? Absolutely. OK, if a guy commits and we take a commitment and then next thing you know he goes out and he robs a 7/11, commitment’s over on our side. Right? Fair enough?
“Or a guy goes and he’s on life support (academically) and can’t graduate high school because he didn’t try, didn’t show up — man, commitment’s over on our side.
“So, anyway, we don’t want to be first. We want to be the right one.”