Oklahoma hires Clemson’s Venables to replace Riley

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Oklahoma hired Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as its head coach to replace Lincoln Riley, bringing back a former Sooners assistant with a long track record of success.

Venables will be introduced Monday morning on the campus in Norman, the school said.

The 50-year-old Venables was on Oklahoma’s staff under Bob Stoops as co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003 and defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011. He was co-defensive coordinator when the Sooners won the 2000 national title. He left Oklahoma for Clemson in 2012 and won the Broyles Award in 2016 as the nation’s top assistant. He’s been on the staff of teams that have won three national titles and appeared in eight national championship games.

“He knows the formula to win national championships and has the toughness, the attitude and the fight that I think will elevate our program in a lot of positive ways,” said Stoops, who has been serving as interim coach since Riley’s surprising departure last week for Southern California. “I’ve always loved his energy, excitement and passion for the game – it clearly spills over to his players.”

Venables, who will be a head coach for the first time, said in a statement he’s excited to add to the history of a program that’s won seven national titles and had seven Heisman Trophy winners. He also said he’s embracing the Sooners’ eventual move to the Southeastern Conference, which is set for 2025.

“There’s no question we are equipped to compete at the very highest level and attract the best players from across the country,” he said. “The OU logo has never been stronger.”

Under Venables, Clemson led the nation in scoring defense in 2018, and his 2020 unit tied for the lead in sacks. This season, Clemson ranks second nationally in scoring defense, ninth in total defense, eighth in rushing defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.

Oklahoma was caught off guard when Riley took the job at USC. Stoops took over on an interim basis to calm things down during recruiting.

Venables quickly emerged as a fan favorite for the job. Many had hoped the Sooners could lure him back from Clemson as defensive coordinator after the Sooners fired coordinator Mike Stoops in 2018. The Sooners chose Alex Grinch, who left to join Riley at USC.

Venables’ first concerns will be to prevent players from transferring and salvage as much of the recruiting class as possible. Several players announced their intentions to enter the transfer portal after Riley’s decision, including quarterback Spencer Rattler. Numerous recruits decommitted, including Malachi Nelson – a five-star quarterback who now says he is heading to USC.

Riley set the bar high. He went 55-10 in five seasons with the Sooners and led them to three College Football Playoff appearances. Quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won Heisman trophies and were No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft.

The Sooners went 10-2 this season and fell just short of competing for what would have been a seventh consecutive Big 12 title. They lost their regular-season finale 37-33 to Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione believes the Sooners are primed to achieve more under Venables.

“There is no doubt in my mind he is the right man to lead OU football into its next great era,” Castiglione said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited for Brent to return to OU as our head coach.”

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Nebraska’s leading rusher Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska opened spring practice with running back Anthony Grant suspended indefinitely to work on academics and other issues, first-year coach Matt Rhule announced.

Grant led the team in rushing with 915 yards and six touchdowns last season. He also caught 18 passes for 104 yards.

“Working on academics and general things. Nothing bad other than just our standards as a program,” Rhule said. “That will be day by day. Good kid. Just have to get him going in the right direction.”

Rhule said kick returner and reserve receiver Tommi Hill also is suspended. He did not specify a reason.

Backup tight ends Chris Hickman and James Carnie and reserve cornerback Tyreke Johnson left the team.