Report: Clemson's Brent Venables the Top Target to Replace Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 27: Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables looks on during warm ups before their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 27, 2021 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Oklahoma has reportedly zeroed its head coaching search on Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

Chris Low of ESPN reported the deal could be finalized as soon as Sunday. Venables has focused on Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to serve in the same position under him in Norman.

Venables, the 2016 Broyles Award winner as the nation's top assistant coach, has served as defensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney since 2012. He's been one of the most respected assistants in the nation over the last decade, with several schools pursuing him for head coaching vacancies only to be rebuffed.

Oklahoma is a natural landing spot for Venables given he was an assistant for 13 seasons in Norman under Bob Stoops.

The Sooners program is reeling after losing Lincoln Riley to USC late last month. Riley, who went 55-10 in five seasons at Oklahoma, is also taking many of the team's future commits. The Sooners are down to 13 players committed in the 2022 class and down to two commits in 2023. It's possible, if not likely, more players will reopen their recruitment.

Given the 2022 and 2023 classes will be vital parts of the team when Oklahoma makes its move to the SEC in 2025, it's fair to say the ripple of Riley's departure will have a long-lasting impact on the program.

Adding Venables, who has significant experience recruiting at the highest level, could be vital in preserving Oklahoma's standing among the nation's best programs.