What Could Oklahoma’s New Coaching Staff Look Like

Oklahoma's New Coaching

With the news of Brent Venables being the next head coach at Oklahoma, the next domino to fall is the complete staff. As is the case in any coaching change there will be a mix of staff that is retained and new coaches coming on board. At this point, nobody has been hired. However, that doesn’t mean that the speculation isn’t running rampant. With that, we’ll take a look at what could Oklahoma’s new coaching staff look like.

What Could Oklahoma’s New Coaching Staff Look Like

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback Coach

The biggest and most prominent name that has been mentioned is Jeff Lebby. Lebby is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss. He has ties to the Oklahoma program as he was a graduate in 2007 and is reportedly very close with Joe Jon Finley. Questions remain surrounding his association with Art Briles if he is the right choice to bring into the program.

Joe Brady is the other name that has been linked. He helped direct one of the best offenses in modern history at LSU. Just today, he was let go from his position with the Carolina Panthers. He could potentially fulfill a role similar to what he did at LSU as the passing game coordinator as well. Other potential names to look at are Kendall Briles and Graham Harrell. The first mission would be to retain current quarterback, Caleb Williams.

Offensive Line Coach

Bill Bedenbaugh has shown that he has an interest in the remaining on staff and we haven’t heard a lot of other names mentioned. However, the offensive line has struggled over the last couple of years. But, that seems to be linked more to the recruiting, scheme, and strength and conditioning state rather than Bedenbaugh’s coaching. He’s a dynamite recruiter and we project him as a guy that will remain on staff.

Running Backs Coach

Demarco Murray has done a tremendous job in keeping the wheels on the bus this week on the recruiting trail. It would be a shocker if he’s not retained. If he can get Gavin Sawchuk to stay committed in the 2022 cycle he’s a lock. Murray likely has Eric Gray and Marcus Major returning and if he could pull in a transfer like Zach Evans from TCU, the Sooners could have a loaded running back room in 2022.

Wide Receivers Coach

Dennis Simmons likely was the biggest hit with Riley moving on to USC. He was one of the best recruiters in the country at his position and was instrumental in getting numerous five-star kids on campus. However, look for ex-Sooner Malcolm Kelly to get a serious look. He’s the current wide receiver coach at TCU. But, it would be a natural fit to see him return to Norman.

Tight Ends Coach

He’s only been in Norman for one season. However, we project Joe Jon Finley to be retained on this Sooner staff. If for no other reason, his relationship with Lebby could be crucial. But, Finley has done a solid job with the tight ends in his first year at Oklahoma. The tight ends weren’t involved in the passing game to a large degree. However, when they got an opportunity, they played well.

Defensive Coordinator

Besides the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator appears to be one of the most interesting hires. Venables will certainly have a hand in the game plan each week, but I would expect him to relinquish playcalling duties. The two names that come to the forefront are Brandon Hall and Todd Bates.

Hall is the current defensive coordinator, special team coordinator, and interim head coach at Troy. He has previously been with Venables at Oklahoma and has had one of the better defenses and special teams units at the group of five level. Bates is the current defensive line coach at Clemson and is one of the best recruiters in the country. However, he could be up for the defensive coordinator job at Clemson now.

Defensive Line/Linebacker Coach

This could go in a variety of different directions based on Venables’ preferences. The expectation is that Venables would continue to be the linebackers coach along with his head coaching duties. But, that would leave existing coaches Calvin Thibodeaux and Jamar Cain to remain on staff. Thibodeaux and Cain have continued to be elite recruiters and built the strongest unit on the team in 2021. It would be a surprise to see either of them go.

Defensive Backs

There’s no existing coach to retain in this area of the defense. With Alex Grinch gone to coordinate Riley’s defense and Roy Manning tendering his resignation there will be some new blood here. There are four names that have come to the forefront here. Jay Valai is the current cornerbacks’ coach at Alabama. His ties in Texas could make him a good fit.  Dante Williams was the interim head coach at USC and has extensive experience on the west coast in coaching at Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Southern California. He could be critical in maintaining that California connection.

The next two names are Mike Reed and Corey Raymond. Reed could seem like an obvious choice with his connection to Venables. He coached the defensive backs at Clemson since 2013. But, he could be in line for a promotion elsewhere. Raymond has been vital in creating the DBU moniker at LSU. And, he’s one of the best position coaches in the game. However, with the changes going on at LSU could Raymond look for a new start?

Strength & Conditioning Coach

The strength and conditioning program is an area that has been much maligned over the last four years. But, it may have been a blessing in disguise for Bennie Wylie to join USC. However, the timing might not have been better for Venables and the Sooners. Long-time LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt was let go from LSU by Brian Kelly. Moffitt would be an outstanding hire to help usher Oklahoma into the SEC in this very critical position.

Special Teams Coach

Lastly, we come to the special teams coaching spot. If Hall is the guy, he will help coordinate the special teams. But, it’s critical that an everyday coach is in place. This could be a spot manned by Cale Gundy. Gundy has been one of the longest-tenured Sooner assistants so he’s almost assuredly got a spot on this staff. He could serve as a wide receivers coach or even a passing game coordinator. However, Oklahoma’s special teams have been poor over the last few years and attention here is needed.



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