The Oklahoma Sooners suffered their first losing record in decades last season in Brent Venables’ head coaching debut. After an offseason where the Sooners spent significant resources to overhaul their roster, they are looking to turn their fortunes around before joining the SEC.
What does their coaching staff look like?
Oklahoma Sooners Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Brent Venables
Venables came in to serve as Oklahoma’s 23rd head coach after the sudden departure by Lincoln Riley, who bolted for the USC job after the 2021 season. Coming off a tenure as the defensive coordinator for the Clemson Tigers, Venables helped assemble some of the best defenses in college football over his last near-decade at Clemson.
Venables coached 33 NFL draft selections while at Clemson, including first-rounders Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Isaiah Simmons, and A.J. Terrell.
Before Clemson, Venables served as co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma. From 1999-2011, Venables helped OU to the 2000 national championship, three other national championship game appearances, and seven Big 12 titles.
Oklahoma linebackers under Venables won three Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year awards, five Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year accolades, and six first-team All-America honors. Ten of his linebackers at Oklahoma and 31 defensive players overall were taken in the 2000-2012 NFL Drafts.
After seemingly a decade of poor defensive performances, the Oklahoma Sooners are banking on Venables being able to turn their defense around. Oklahoma went 6-7 in his first year as their head coach.
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers: Ted Roof
Ted Roof has spent three decades coaching defenses at the collegiate level. Roof first started as a defensive coordinator at UMass in 1995 before bouncing around colleges and becoming the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech from 1999-2001.
Roof would then coach the Duke Blue Devils’ defense before becoming their head coach from 2004-2007. Roof finished his head coaching tenure with a 6-45 record.
Roof would quickly rebound, becoming the defensive coordinator at Minnesota and then Auburn, where he would help the Tigers win a national championship. Roof would bounce from college to college, spending a year or two as the defensive coordinator for six different schools before joining Brent Venables at Clemson as an analyst.
Roof’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- Alabama (Graduate Assistant, 1987-88)
- West Georgia (Linebackers, 1989)
- Duke (Linebackers, 1990-93)
- UMass (Defensive Line, 1994; Defensive Coordinator, 1995-96)
- Western Carolina (Defensive Coordinator, 1997)
- Georgia Tech (Linebackers, 1998; Defensive Coordinator 1999-2001)
- Duke (Defensive Coordinator, 2002-03; Head coach, 2004-07)
- Minnesota (Defensive Coordinator 2008)
- Auburn (Defensive Coordinator, 2009-2010)
- UCF (Defensive Coordinator, 2011)
- Penn State (Defensive Coordinator, 2012)
- Georgia Tech (Defensive Coordinator, 2013-17)
- NC State (Associate head coach/co-Defensive Coordinator, 2018)
- Appalachian State (Defensive Coordinator, 2019)
- Vanderbilt (Defensive Coordinator, 2020)
- Clemson (Defensive Analyst, 2021)
- Oklahoma (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 2022-Present)
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks: Jeff Lebby
A former player and student assistant coach at Oklahoma, Lebby has built a reputation for coaching some of college football’s most productive offenses over the last several seasons. Lebby coached running backs for the Baylor Bears from 2012-2016, mentoring Lache Seastrunk, Shock Linwood, and JaMycal Hasty during his tenure there.
Lebby spent a year as an offensive coordinator in the NAIA ranks in 2017 before serving as the quarterbacks coach at UCF in 2018 under former Sooner teammate Josh Heupel, where he helped mentor McKenzie Milton to a sixth-place finish in Heisman voting. Lebby was promoted to the Golden Knights’ offensive coordinator in 2019.
UCF set a school record and ranked second nationally in total offense and fifth in the country in scoring offense.
Lebby parlayed his success at UCF into a job in the SEC, where he became the offensive coordinator for the Ole Miss Rebels from 2020-2021. Ole Miss led the SEC in total offense in 2020 and 2021. He was named a semifinalist for the Broyles Award for the best assistant coach in college football in both of those seasons.
Lebby’s full coaching resume can be found here:
- Baylor (Assistant Director of Football Operations/NFL Liason, 2008-2011; Running Backs coach, 2012-2016)
- Southeastern University (Offensive Coordinator, 2017)
- UCF (Quarterbacks, 2018; Offensive Coordinator, 2019)
- Ole Miss (Offensive Coordinator, 2020-21)
- Oklahoma (Offensive Coordinator, 2022-Present)
Associate Head Coach/cCo-Defensive Coordinator/DTs: Todd Bates
Todd Bates was a four-year starter along the defensive line at Alabama from 2001-2004 and served as a team captain in 2004. After spending two years with the Tennessee Titans, Bates transitioned into coaching at high schools before becoming the defensive line coach at Idaho State in 2011.
Bates quickly rose up the ranks to become the defensive line coach at Jacksonville State in 2014 and took on the same role at Clemson in 2017.
From 2017 to 2021, Bates coached several NFL defensive linemen such as Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, and Bryan Bresee, and earned All-ACC honors for Tyler Davis and Nyles Pinckney.
Running Backs Coach: DeMarco Murray
A former standout running back for the Sooners in those infamous 2007-2010 offenses, Murray still owns the Oklahoma records for All-Purpose Yards and Touchdowns scored.
Murray was a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL and an All-Pro in 2014 while playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tennessee Titans.
He took to coaching once his playing career ended, coaching running backs at Arizona, where he mentored J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell, before taking over as the running backs coach at Oklahoma. Since then, Murray has produced multiple NFL running backs like Rhamondre Stevenson, Kennedy Brooks, and Eric Gray.
Wide Receivers Coach: Emmett Jones
The 2023 season is Emmett Jones’s first year as the wide receivers coach at Oklahoma. A long-time high school coach in the Dallas area, Jones started coaching in college at Texas Tech in 2015 under Kliff Kingsbury.
While at Texas Tech, Jones coached several productive receivers such as Jakeem Grant, Keke Coutee, Jonathan Giles, Dylan Cantrell, T.J. Vasher, and Antoine Wesley. Jones then joined Les Miles’ staff at Kansas in the same role from 2019-2021 before returning to coach receivers at Texas Tech in 2022.
Tight Ends Coach: Joe Jon Finley
Joe Jon Finley is in his third year as the Sooners’ tight ends coach. Finley was a standout tight end for the Sooners under Bob Stoops, helping Oklahoma win multiple Big 12 championships from 2004-2007 before spending time in the NFL.
Finley got started as a coach as a graduate assistant in 2012 under Stoops at Oklahoma before getting a college job as an offensive quality control coach at Baylor in 2015. Finley was hired as Missouri’s tight ends coach in 2016, where he coached Albert Okwuegbunam, Sean Culkin, and Kendall Blanton from 2016-2018.
He coached Jalen Wydermyer to a Freshman All-American performance in 2019 at Texas A&M and then coached Kenny Yeboah as the tight ends coach/passing game coordinator at Ole Miss in 2020.
Offensive Line Coach: Bill Bedenbaugh
Bill Bedenbaugh has spent a decade coaching the offensive line at Oklahoma, building a reputation as one of the best developers of offensive linemen in college football.
Across his 23 years coaching offensive linemen at the collegiate level, Bedenbaugh has coached 14 draft picks, including some of the best in the NFL, such as Lane Johnson and Creed Humphrey.
Defensive Ends Coach: Miguel Chavis
The 2023 season will be Miguel Chavis’s second season at Oklahoma. A former Clemson defensive tackle, Miguel Chavis briefly played with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs before becoming a coach.
Chavis spent time in the seminary before being hired by Brent Venables at Clemson in an off-field player development role. Chavis then followed Venables to Oklahoma, serving as his defensive ends coach.
Cornerbacks Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator: Jay Valai
Jay Valai was hired to serve as co-defensive coordinator/pass defense coordinator/cornerbacks coach in 2022.
A former All-Big Ten defensive back at Wisconsin, Valai has coached at both the collegiate and NFL levels since 2016. Following his playing career, Valai opened a sports performance training facility and worked with professional athletes from the NBA and NFL, as well as with high school athletes.
Valai was hired by Kirby Smart at Georgia to serve as a defensive quality control coach in 2016 and 2017. He spent 2018 as a defensive quality control coach and assistant defensive backs coach with the Kansas City Chiefs before becoming the full-time cornerbacks coach at Rutgers in 2019.
Valai would then spend the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Texas and Alabama, respectively, coaching talents like D’Shawn Jamison, Josh Thompson, Jalyn Armour-Davis, and Kool-Aid McKinstry. He was hired to Nick Sirianni’s initial staff with the Philadelphia Eagles before taking the Alabama job instead.
Safeties Coach: Brandon Hall
Another OU alum on this coaching staff, Brandon Hall is in his second season coaching safeties at Oklahoma. Hall was a student assistant on staff for Oklahoma’s National Championship team in 2000 and worked his way to a graduate assistant and then quality control coach in 2006.
He then spent time as co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator for the University of Central Oklahoma from 2007 to 2010. Hall spent the 2011 season back with Oklahoma before becoming the safeties coach at Arkansas State in 2012 and a quality control coach at Auburn in 2013.
After that, Hall helped Auburn reach a national championship game in 2013. He got his first break as a defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State from 2014-2017 before taking the same job with the Troy Trojans from 2018-2021.