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Lincoln who? OU officially introduces new head coach Brent Venables

New OU football coach Brent Venables speaks at his welcoming ceremony Monday in Norman.
Sooner Vision
New OU football coach Brent Venables speaks at his welcoming ceremony Monday in Norman.

OU officially introduced new football coach Brent Venables on Monday in an event at the football team's Everest Training Center in Norman.

The 50-year-old was a Sooners assistant for 13 years with Bob Stoops and spent the last 10 years as Clemson’s defensive coordinator. Venables has coached in eight national title games, and OU President Joseph Harroz said he’s confident they made the right hire.

"All the great coaches, who it seems all names start with a B. That's right," Harroz said to a cheering crowd. "You hear me."

Venables acknowledged those coaches: Bud, Barry and Bob.

"Excellence has been established by coach Wilkinson, coach Switzer and coach Stoops, three hall of fame coaches that are the example of what the standard looks like. It's my responsibility to relentlessly defend that standard and to build upon that standard," Venables said.

Venables pledged to run a relationship-based program that puts what’s best for the players first. Former head coach Lincoln Riley suddenly left OU for Southern California a week ago, taking several staff members with him and prompting several players to decommit.

Venables said he’s committed to a successful transition from the Big 12 to the SEC, but his priorities start with helping players graduate and prepare for life after football. A national championship comes last.

"I think it's very important that you understand that order, OK? To graduate, to equip them with tools that last for a lifetime, OK? To have a great college experience. And then the winning happens when you get that right," Venables said.

Some players walked Venables into the Monday morning welcoming event, including linebacker Caleb Kelly, whose playing days ended early after a knee injury last month.

"You have those guys that I look up to, those big bros for me that have already said you are the guy. You have these guys up here who have already said you are the guy. You have this family that you keep talking about that says you are the guy. And so, now it's time to go to work. It's time to go to work," Kelly said.

Kelly is leaving OU with three degrees, including two master’s.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.