Oklahoma was forced to hop on the turbulent and historic coaching carousel earlier this week, as Lincoln Riley announced his departure from the program and decision to take over as head coach of USC. A landscape-altering move that disheartened Norman, but thrilled Los Angeles.
And so Oklahoma, set to join the juggernaut SEC in a couple of years, is now conducting a nationwide search for Riley's successor. But who is best-suited to lead the program, preserve its Big 12 dominance, and accept the challenge of changing conferences? Former Sooners quarterback Jason White believes that Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is a perfect candidate.
"I'd love it. Coach Venables, I was a player at that time when he was coaching on the defensive side of the ball. So, I had to go against him every day," White told The Zach Gelb Show on Wednesday. "But we had a great relationship and he's a great coach. They need a defensive mind at Oklahoma, maybe change that side a little bit. He'd be a great hire. Every player I know who's played for him loves him. He demands 100-percent out of you every play."
Venables, who joined Clemson's coaching staff in 2012, has ties to Oklahoma. The 50-year-old served as an assistant for the school under Bob Stoops from 1999-2011, and was named the Sooners' lone defensive coordinator during the 2004 season. In five of the last six years, the Tigers have led the ACC in total defense, and this season, the unit leads the conference and ranks only second nationally in red zone defense and scoring defense.
Riley, who's rumored to have signed a $110 million contract with the Trojans, spent five seasons as leader of Oklahoma. He went 55-10 during his tenure, winning four Big 12 titles and earning four trips to the College Football Playoff. Riley also developed two Heisman-winning quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who were selected as top overall picks in the NFL draft.
Oklahoma (10-2), which entered last week ranked No. 10 in the nation, lost to rival No. 7 Oklahoma State (11-1) on Saturday, eliminating them from Big 12 title contention. The Sooners had appeared in six straight conference title games.
The entire Oklahoma football conversation between White and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.