Yesterday Sheahon Zenger outlined his ideal candidate as he begins this weeks coaching search in an interview with Jayhawkslant.com.
"I am looking for someone with a strong pedigree. It could be a former head coach, current head coach or a coordinator. I think it is important that a coordinator comes from a highly successful program and he's been in that role for some time... I want someone that has strong football values and knows X's and O's. He must have a level of discipline above most."
If we're using that as our model our first two profile's fit the bill as a current head coach or a former head coach. Our next profile will be our first candidate that fits in the coordinator category and it's a name that was floated around in early discussions last time, but one that never surfaced for some fairly obvious reasons. That person is Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Looking at Zenger's list Venables brings coordinator experience from a highly successful program and he's been there for some time. He's also known as a fairly strong coordinator from an X's and O's standpoint and he and Oklahoma are known as running a disciplined program. So what else do we need to know about Brent Venebles?
First and foremost people will look at Venables and see a coach who's background is tied to Kansas State. Venables is from Salina Kansas, played two seasons at Garden City before heading to play under Snyder during the '91 and '92 seasons. Obviously that was the same time during which Sheahon Zenger served under Snyder as a graduate assistant before moving on to Kansas to earn his Ph.D.
Following his playing career Venables jumped directly into coaching as the Wildcats linebackers coach in 1993. Venables would remain in that role with the Wildcats until 1998 before following Bob Stoops and other Kansas State assistants to Norman Oklahoma where he would join the Sooners staff. During his time at Kansas State, Venables was obviously part of one of the most impressive turnarounds in college football history. During his second to last season with the Wildcats, Venables had three linebackers named to the All Big 12 team. He also coached two All American offensive lineman at Kansas State.
In 1999 Venables would be named the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for Bob Stoops Sooners and serve four seasons before being named associate head coach and full time defensive coordinator in 2004. Venables is young at just 40 years old and has certainly earned mention with a number of openings that we're seeing across the country.
Venables has coached 12 NFL draftees and the success of the Oklahoma defense during his time in Norman speaks for itself. Obviously a big part of that is the players and Venables has had a big impact in recruiting the talent to Norman that has helped him succeed. He knows Big 12 country, he is very well connected in the state of Kansas and he knows Texas. Kansas had success before by dipping into the Bob Stoops, Bill Snyder coaching tree, why not try again?
The big question here is whether Venables has any interest in Kansas. Their is a connection with Zenger and some common ground so it could open the door, but Venables is becoming a hot name assistant and he could be waiting his turn at Kansas State, Oklahoma or perhaps he'll go after what he considers a more desirable position. One thing is certain and that is that when you start dipping into the assistant pool, Venables name has to be on the top of the list based on his track record and the fact that he has been around a rebuild at Kansas State and in all reality he was around for what was a rebuild by Oklahoma's standards.