Mike Stoops Returns to Oklahoma. Brent Venables Leaving?

By Luke McConnell

What many people in Oklahoma have known for over a month is now official.

Mike Stoops, former OU defensive coordinator and brother of head coach, Bob Stoops, is returning from an eight season hiatus to once again become co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at OU.

Stoops had spent the past 7.5 years as the head coach at Arizona before being fired in October.

Stoops confirmed that he was heading back to Oklahoma in an interview with The Oklahoman this morning.

“I’m excited,” Stoops said in the interview. “I had a lot of different opportunities. Obviously, Oklahoma is the one I felt the most comfortable with, trusted the most. I feel we can win at the very highest level which is exciting to me. To be able to do it with your brother is even more exciting.”

The odd man out in the situation is current OU secondary coach, Willie Martinez. Bob Stoops has graciously allowed Martinez to inquire about other jobs across the country instead of firing the second year assistant. As of now, Martinez has been rumored as a candidate for jobs at Kansas, Illinois and Auburn.

You have to feel for Martinez, who technically is still on staff. An already extremely awkward situation was made even more awkward last night, when Mike Stoops did an interview with KOLD-TV in Tuscon, and talked as if he was already on the staff. Martinez is a good defensive coach, and has a great track record, but has had slip ups at his last two stops. Hopefully, he is able to find a job soon.

Sooner fans everywhere are ecstatic about Stoops’ return, and based on the defensive performances by the Sooners when he was here, they have every reason to be. Stoops’ defenses finished in the top-10 every year of his tenure except for 1999, when the Sooners finished No. 39 in the first year of the Bob Stoops era. Still, 39th was a vast improvement over the defenses that roamed (read: wandered) the field in Norman during the mid-90’s.

Even more impressive, the Sooners never finished below No. 25 in rushing, passing, scoring, or total defense when Mike Stoops was on staff at OU after the 1999 season.

However, rumors are currently swirling regarding the future of current defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Sources have said that Venables is perfectly fine with Stoops returning and taking over the play-calling duties for the defense and sharing the defensive coordinator position.

Venables has been with Bob Stoops since the Sooners’ head coach arrived in Norman in 1999. In fact, all of the defensive coaches, minus Martinez, have been with Stoops since 1999. With Mike Stoops rejoining the staff, the original defensive staff from Stoops’ first staff will be reunited.

That is, if Venables stays.

Venables currently has been offered the defensive coordinator position at West Virginia, which is set to join the Big 12 in 2012. Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen added Oklahoma State veteran assistant coach Joe DeForest to his defensive staff yesterday.

There are also rumors of Venables being in the running for the now open defensive coordinator position at Clemson. Venables was a candidate for the head coaching position there in 2009 after Tommy Bowden was fired, but interim head coach Dabo Swinney engineered a division championship for the Tigers and was named head coach after the season.

The Sooner defense will benefit greatly from adding Mike Stoops back to the staff, but that excitement would be tempered considerably with the loss of Venables. Venables has been very instrumental in the 2012 recruiting class for the Sooners and there is no telling what those committed players would do should he take a position elsewhere.

Only time will tell in regard to Venables, but with Mike Stoops returning, Sooner fans everywhere are hoping the dominant defense of the early 2000s are coming with him.

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