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With the Brent Venables hire behind them, the Oklahoma Sooners can begin the task of filling out its coaching staff and making decisions on current coaches as well. There have already been some departures. Alex Grinch, Roy Manning, Dennis Simmons, and Jamar Cain joined Lincoln Riley at USC and there have been some hires as well.
With Venables is only two days into his job, there will be a lot of details to work out as he attempts to bring coaches on board from other coaching staffs.
One of the things to watch will be how Brent Venables structures his staff and what titles he designates for his group of coaches.
We’ve got a coaching tracker started here with what we know based on the Oklahoma Sooners official website, reading the tea leaves on social media, and the new hires that have been made.
Head Coach: Brent Venables
Dec 6, 2021; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners new head football coach Brent Venables received the key to the stadium from University of Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz Jr. during a public announcement event inside the Everest Training Center. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
On Sunday, the Oklahoma Sooners officially announced that Brent Venables would be their 23rd head coach. He returns to Norman after a successful stint with the Clemson Tigers, which saw him win two national titles as defensive coordinator.
Sep 6, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby talks to the crowd after a victory against the Louisville Cardinals in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
As soon as the rumors began to swirl that Brent Venables would be the next head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, Jeff Lebby’s name followed. It seemed that the two were connected from the beginning and it broke Tuesday night that the hiring was a “done deal.”
Running Backs Coach:
Ty Russell/OU Athletics
DeMarco Murray has been out on the recruiting trail non-stop. Before Venables was hired and since Venables has been hired. Though there hasn’t been an official word that Murray will be retained, this appears to be one of those “no news is good news” situations.
— Kevin Sawchuk (@ksaw75) December 1, 2021
Wide Receivers Coach:
The Oklahoma Sooners don’t currently list a wide receivers coach on their roster. With the departure of Dennis Simmons, the Sooners will be in need of someone to take over the role.
Cale Gundy served as the inside receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator and he’s been as active as any current coach on the recruiting trail in their in-home visits.
How they fill the role still remains to be seen. Gundy’s long-standing connection to the program, and his relationship with head coach Brent Venables and new offensive coordinator Jeffy Lebby would seem to indicate he’ll still have a role on this staff, but it remains to be seen in what capacity.
Tight Ends Coach:
Oklahoma’s Joe Jon Finley during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Oklahoma won 16-13. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman.
Like Murray and Bedenbaugh, Joe Jon Finley appears to be a coach that Brent Venables will retain on staff for 2022. Finley’s been out working the recruiting trail to affirm commitments of tight ends Kaden Helms and Jason Llewellyn.
Big thanks to my guys for visiting me today! Cant wait to be apart of something special. 🤞🏽 pic.twitter.com/VTc6zPnJeb
— Kaden Helms (@KadenJHelms) December 7, 2021
Offensive Line Coach:
Oct 20, 2018; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners CO-offensive coordinator Bill Bedenbaugh during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Though it was initially reported that offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh would be heading to USC with Lincoln Riley, that appears to have lost traction. Bedenbaugh joined Brent Venables, DeMarco Murray, and Cale Gundy on a recruiting trip to visit Jake Taylor on Tuesday evening. Sure seems like Coach B will be sticking around.
— Jake Taylor (@JakeTaylor_79) December 8, 2021
Brent Venables indicated in his introductory press conference that he intends to hire a defensive coordinator. That’s no different than how things played out during Bob Stoops’ tenure as well. Stoops came to Oklahoma as a defensive guru, helping Florida win a national championship. Stoops brought in Venables and Mike Stoops to be co-defensive coordinators. It’s unlikely that he’d hire two guys to fill the role since Venables can help with design and gameplan, but he will hire one. The question is who?
Defensive Line Coach:
Oklahoma’s Calvin Thibodeaux, defensive line coach, watches from the sideline during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. Oklahoma won 16-13. Bryam Terry, The Oklahoman
Having played under Brent Venables from 2002-2006, there’s a good chance Calvin Thibodeaux is retained to continue coaching the defensive line. Venables could bring in someone to help add to the wealth of knowledge at the position, but it would be unlikely they’d move on from Thibbs, who’s done a good job recruiting and developing interior defensive linemen.
Defensive Ends Coach:
If Twitter is any indication, the Oklahoma Sooners have found their defensive ends coach in the wake of Jamar Cain’s departure for USC. Miguel Chavis, who is listed as a defensive player development coach by Clemson’s official website, appears to be joining the Sooners.
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Like Calvin Thibodeaux, Brian Odom played for Brent Venables and has only been on staff with the Sooners since 2019 coaching the inside linebackers.
There’s been no indication at this point of Odom’s future, though he’s still listed on the team’s website.
Defensive Backs Coach:
With Roy Manning’s departure for USC, the Sooners are left without a defensive backs coach. Chip Viney has been out on the trail with Venables and company this week. Viney was a graduate assistant with the Sooners from 2013-2015 and has been in the player development and recruiting program since 2018. He played defensive back and was a captain at UCLA before moving on to finish his career at New Mexico State.
Could he be slotted to step into the defensive backs role?
Special Teams Coordinator:
Former head coach Lincoln Riley was adamant that the Sooners wouldn’t be hiring a special teams coordinator. Could that change under Brent Venables? At times, the kicking game was a weapon for the Sooners, but they often struggled in the return game.
In the NFL, teams have coaches that are designated to oversee all of the operations on special teams. With so many elements involved, it would behoove the Sooners to consider adding a Special Teams coordinator.
Strength and Conditioning Coach:
Sep 6, 2014; Tulsa, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners director of sports enhancement Jerry Schmidt before the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jerry Schmidt will be returning to the Oklahoma Sooners along with Russell Dennison to resume their role as the strength and conditioning team for OU. Schmidt was with the Sooners from 1999-2017 and Dennsion played for the Sooners before taking on a role with the strength and conditioning staff. Both were most recently at Texas A&M before being brought back to Norman by new head coach Brent Venables.