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Brent Venables reflects on what he learned during second season at Oklahoma

FaceProfileby:Thomas Goldkamp06/05/24

Every college football season provides some new lessons and some new takeaways for college coaches, even the ones that have been doing it for a long time. Oklahoma‘s Brent Venables is still fairly new as a head coach, so he continues to soak things in.

His second season was a marked improvement over the first, perhaps a sign that Oklahoma is ready to turn the corner and emerge as a legitimate national contender again.

So what did Venables take away from 2023?

“Just again, being efficient and being willing to adapt and improve, get better,” Brent Venables explained at the SEC spring meetings. “There’s lots of resources to use to do that. Listen to your players. Building and maintaining competitive depth is critical at all the spots, but the right spots certainly.”

The Sooners will have some tinkering to do in 2024 after losing starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel to the transfer portal. Luckily new starter Jackson Arnold has been pegged as a breakout candidate, so Oklahoma should be in position to keep rolling.

The rest is all about improvements across the board.

“I think, again, just continue to grow being a step further along in all of our systems, whether again that’s strength and conditioning, sports performance, nutrition, our life skills program, continuing to nurture and develop your culture,” Venables said. “That’s kind of the root and really for us where it all starts.”

That culture has largely been established by the way Venables has constructed his roster. He has used a mix of high school recruiting and the transfer portal, all while looking for under-the-radar gems.

“The recruiting piece is something that’s a lot of fun. It’s a great challenge,” Brent Venables said. “Again, we’re competing against the best of the best. We’ve got great resources, but so do the people we’re recruiting against. I still believe in finding guys that maybe not a lot of other people think a lot about but looking for players in building a roster that there’s certain percentage or a certain group of guys that have intrinsic values that maybe aren’t well thought-of in recruiting circles, but they’ve got the right stuff. And I think that’s more important now than ever as you’re looking for continuity in your rosters and guys that are motivated by the right things.

“Those are things that you really probably foundationally learn from, and again I was a guy that had to earn my way, so I have a great appreciation for that as a coach. I have a great appreciation for guys that value those things.”

Venables even game one specific example of a coach he’s trying to mold his program after.

Bill Snyder, he’s been the master of doing more with less for a long time,” Brent Venables said. “And so again, I think just foundationally not losing your way in the middle of all the chaos. Being calm and having clear vision on your standards and your vision for your program and how you build it the right way.”

As Oklahoma heads into Year 3, the Sooner will do so with a lot of confidence, knowing Venables has been hard at work establishing the culture and slowly building up the standards for the program.