OU hires Alabama cornerbacks coach to complete football staff

FILE – Oklahoma head coach/defensive coordinator/linebackers Brent Venables is pictured at Oklahoma football media day in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011. An individual with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Oklahoma targeted Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to be the new head coach. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

NORMAN, Oklahoma (KFOR) – The new head football coach of the University of Oklahoma has announced that he has made the final hire to complete his staff.

After being hired as OU’s next head football coach, Brent Venables made it clear that he intended to reshape the intensity of the program.

Last month, Venables announced that the Sooners would retain coach Cale Gundy, coach Bill Bedenbaugh, coach Joe Jon Finley and running backs coach DeMarco Murray.

Oklahoma also officially announced the hirings of Jeff Lebby as Offensive Coordinator and Ted Roof as Defensive Coordinator.

Jerry Schmidt returns to Norman as director of sports improvement and strength and conditioning. Former defensive assistant Brandon Hall will become the Sooners’ new safety coach, and former Clemson defensive assistant Miguel Chavis will coach OU’s defensive goals.

On Tuesday, Venables announced the hiring of Jay Valai as the new OU/pass defensive coach co-defensive coordinator.

Valai will be responsible for coaching cornerbacks and Nickelbacks.

“Jay is one of the emerging coaches in college football. He brings an enormous amount of passion and energy to the work as well as a genuine love for the game and for building relationships. He has collegiately experienced the game at the highest level as a player in Wisconsin and has great coaching experience at the NFL and college levels. He will bring a lot of great ideas from a schedule point of view, he is one of the best teachers in the game and he has a great reputation as a recruiter. Sooner or later he will be head coach. Sometimes you know when guys have “it,” and Jay definitely has it.

I met him on the recruitment path years ago and immediately connected with him. Our philosophies matched and I really liked his passion for the game and his desire to be a great leader. So we exchanged numbers and kept in touch. He loves his craft and is more mature than his years regarding X’s and O’s and learning all the defensive positions. I have just been drawn to his thirst for knowledge and his great sense of humility. He asked me if I minded serving as one of his mentors and I was just honored. Loved his hunger and toughness and how he had a good edge over him. We made time for the clinic on the phone or even in person, and also talked a lot about people, relationships and things like that. Many of our values ​​matched as husbands and fathers, and certainly as coaches in this profession. Really excited for Jay and his wife and kids to go to Norman. Our players will love his expertise, his passion and his ability to connect.”

OU head coach Brent Venables

Last season, Valai spent his time as a cornerback coach for Alabama, helping the Tide to a 13-2 record, an SEC title and an appearance in the CFP National Championship.

“Coach Venables and I met while recruiting years ago and he has always been a great mentor to me. We both love football so much and I loved talking to him about the nuances of the game. Back and forth with ideas and thoughts, schedule adjustments and so on. We just clicked. But I also admire his passion. That’s something you can’t hide in life, and Coach Venables is one of the most passionate and authentic people you could ever meet.

Alabama was great and Nick Saban is the GOAT. I learned so much working under him and we have a great relationship. He and Miss Terry have been wonderful to my family and me. But to have the opportunity to work closer to home for a program in Oklahoma, I grew up watching while living in Dallas and to work with Brent and be a cook in the kitchen with him is special. I’m excited. It is more than a blessing to be part of Sooner Nation.”

Jay Valai

Valai was a cornerbacks coach at Texas in 2020 and Rutgers in 2019.

In 2018, he was a defensive quality control role and an assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs defense.

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