Venables v Cristobal

Fall camp is well under way in Norman, OK and Coral Gables, FL  as both teams try to rebound from subpar inaugural seasons under new head football coaches. Miami brought home their favorite son from the upper northwest and Venables finally relented in giving up his defensive coordinator position at Clemson that he held for longer than two presidential terms. Oklahoma and Miami have had a few high-profile titanic clashes over their historical timelines, but the two have not tangoed since Jacory Harris and Sam Bradford were running their respective campuses back in 2009. Fourteen years ago? It has certainly been some time!


Time flies by when you’re not winning championships and it has been a long time since either school has won a national title. Many feel that Oklahoma and Miami should have met in the BCS Championship game in 2001 that would have seen the Canes in their hometown playing against the Sooners in the Orange Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium. However, Miami was robbed by a computer formula that put them behind Florida State even though Miami had beaten FSU earlier that season in a head-to-head matchup. That was definitely a head scratching tabulation by the BCS computers, but Oklahoma was not complaining. They summarily spanked the Seminoles and won their last national championship that season with the Canes winning their 5th national championship over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl the following season.


Big 12 media days rolled around and Coach Venables was asked about a rough first season where the Sooners went 6 wins, 7 losses, while their defense gave up a ton of yards and points. Venables’ response: “6-7, none of it’s any good, right? But had we gotten blown out by a Middle Tennessee, had we gotten beat by a Florida State 45-3, the conversation is probably a little different.” Woah! Shots fired! Coach Cristobal took a few strays on that one while he was busy minding his business in Miami, but he was inundated with more shade than Konoha, the village hidden in the leaves.  It is unclear why Coach Venables decided to deflect and bring Miami into it when he was asked a question about his own program’s performance, but that is the tact he decided to take.


To make matters worse Coach Venables decided to get entangled with Coach Prime aka Deion Sanders, who has yet to coach an official game since taking over the Colorado Buffaloes back in December 2022. Venables responded to a radio interview question about coaching changes by stating “you want to talk about a coaching change, resetting the standards and what expectations are? I gave guys 12 months of grace. I was unlike Deion; I gave 12 months of grace to figure it out.” Double woah on that one! Coach Venables is calling dudes out by name like they do in the WWE now? I think it’s safe to say Venables is paying too much attention to more than just his own team. It sounds like Mario Cristobal and Deion Sanders are living rent free in Venables’ head. Who knew the guy was so prickly?


Coach Venables’ comments are surprising considering his pedigree.  He played and coached for the taciturn Bill Snyder at Kansas State.   Coach Snyder never shot his mouth off.  When you consider Coach Venables’ next two stops, coaching under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and then Dabo Swinney at Clemson, perhaps the writing was on the wall.  Coach Venables is a defensive coordinator at heart.  Defensive coordinators tend to be loud, speak with passion and sometimes speak without thinking.  Sooner fans hope Coach Venables speaks thru the play of his team this year.


Moving forward, the bottom line is both Coach Cristobal and Coach Venables must improve their sophomore coaching campaigns. Seven losses at Oklahoma and Miami are not acceptable at such historically great programs. Oklahoma losing 49-0 to archrival Texas and Miami losing 45-3 at home to archrival Florida State are black eyes that only a revenge win this season can begin to heal.  Mario Cristobal has done a great job on the recruiting trail and transfer portal with building a better offensive line and bringing in more talent. Coach Venables needs to do the same by accepting the fact that NIL and the transfer portal are here to stay. Instead of complaining about it and taking shots at other programs, he needs to adapt.


The Sooners were handed to Venables in great condition with a loaded roster of talent.  The Caleb Williams departure hurt the Sooners, but it should not have crippled them.  The amount of talent that Mario and Deion inherited at their programs is questionable at best. The massive success that Lincoln Riley and Sonny Dykes enjoyed in their first seasons at their programs, USC and TCU respectively, is putting major pressure on their fellow 2nd year coaches like Mario and Brent to do much better this season. But until then, I am sure Coach Cristobal is privately channeling the words of the great Pat Riley, by saying, “Brent Venables needs to shut the f**k up and manage his own team.”



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