In the wake of Bob Stoops' brother, Mike, returning to the Oklahoma coaching staff, rumors have run rampant on what that will mean for Brent Venables, who has held the position of OU defensive coordinator since Mike Stoops left the Sooner family late in 2003 to become head coach at Arizona.
Venables has said publicly that he would be fine sharing the defensive coordinator role again with Mike Stoops, but in the last few weeks, Venables, who just completed his 13th season with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, has been contacted by West Virginia and Clemson about taking on the same responsibilities outright at those two schools. Venables spent last weekend at Clemson interviewing for the position and is reported to be seriously considering leaving Norman for Clemson and the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Venables' name has come up on some head-coaching candidate lists in recent years, and the conventional thinking was that if he were to leave Oklahoma it would be to accept an offer to become a head coach. No one believed he would be willing to leave OU for any other reason. There has been speculation that he would be the choice to replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State when the dean of Big 12 football coaches elected to step down for a final time. If you think that's a stretch, consider that Venables, originally from Salina, Kan., both played and coached under Snyder at Kansas State in the 1990s.
A hefty tug from Clemson to come and direct the defense there, and at twice the amount of money he is making at OU, has to be very enticing to the 41-year-old Venables, but I would imagine he wouldn't have to think twice about an opportunity to do the same thing back home at his alma mater. As luck or fate would have it, it appears a pathway is now in place for such a transition to play out.
Chris Cosh, who has been defensive coordinator at Kansas State since rejoining Snyder's staff in 2009, is reported to be very close to accepting the same job at South Florida under head coach Skip Holtz. Cosh, who was on Snyder's staff for two seasons during the longtime K-State coach's first 17-year go-round as head of the Wildcats' football program, is credited with having orchestrated Kansas State's huge improvement in run defense this past season over the prior year, when the Cat defense yielded an average of 230 yards per game on the ground. In 2011, Kansas State gave up almost 100 fewer rushing yards on a per-game basis. Under Cosh, the K-State defense went from 117th in the nation in total defense in 2008 to 39th in 2009.
No one at Kansas State will confirm or deny this development, but it appears almost certain that Snyder will be looking for someone new to lead the defense. Venables has to be the top name on that list. And under the current circumstances in Norman, I can't see him not getting the call, accepting the anticipated job offer and shedding his crimson and cream wardrobe for Wildcat purple. It's a natural fit and one that would serve both parties extremely well. It would also allow for an orderly and measured transition to head coach's office.
Columnist Dave Miller wrote today in the National Football Post: "No one quite knows the challenges of winning at Kansas State like (coach) Snyder. However, Venables is the one coach in the college game who has the best chance of at least replicating that success in Manhattan once Snyder decides to walk away once again."
We should know pretty quickly if Venables is in Kansas State's long-term plans, and if he is, the folks in the Little Apple better be taking swift and immediate action in the short term.
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