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Clemson's Brent Venables introduced as new head football coach at OU

The former OU defensive coordinator has a long-standing history with the university, and many believed him to be the frontrunner for the job from the get-go.
Credit: AP
FILE - Brent Venables, Oklahoma associate head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers, is pictured during Oklahoma football media day in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Oklahoma is targeting Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to be its new head coach. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

DALLAS — There was a homecoming in Norman Sunday.

Current Clemson defensive coordinator and former University of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is returning to OU to become the university's new head football coach, the team announced Sunday night.

he becomes Oklahoma's 23rd head football coach.

Many earlier reports predicted Venables as the front-runner for the job from the get-go.

Venables was OU's defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011. Before that, he was the co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003. He played a big part in Clemson's 2016 and 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship wins under head coach Dabo Swinney.

"There's no question we are equipped to compete at the very highest level and attract the best players from across the country. The OU logo has never been stronger," Venables said in a news release Sunday.

Venables is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football, earning more than $2.5 million a year after a contract extension at Clemson at the beginning of this season. His defenses are often ranked by statisticians as the highest-ranked in college football, and has turned down multiple of the head coaching jobs in the past, including an offer from Auburn, in order to stay at Clemson. 

"This is a truly great day for Oklahoma — for our program, our current players, former players, recruits and fans," OU Vice President and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione said in the news release.

He replaces Lincoln Riley, who left OU for USC at the end of November, as the head of the Sooners. Riley departed OU right in the middle of some other shakeups at local high-profile NCAA football programs. 

Texas Christian University parted ways with head coach Gary Patterson in October after more than 20 years. Southern Methodist University head coach Sonny Dykes moved across the highway to Fort Worth to take up rival Patterson's mantle, and former SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee returned to the Hilltop from Miami to take the top spot left open by Dykes.