Listen to Austin 360 Radio

What did OU football coach Brent Venables have to say at the Sooners coaches' caravan stop in Tulsa?

Ryan Aber

TULSA — The headliner came to the stage Thursday night at Oklahoma’s most storied music venue to a standing ovation.

Basketball coaches Jennie Baranczyk and Porter Moser warmed up the crowd, as did OU athletic director Joe Castiglione.

But it was first-year head football coach Brent Venables who brought the house down at Cain’s Ballroom during the return of the OU Coaches’ Caravan.

The caravan, which will make seven stops, returned for the first time since 2018.

Whether it was the time off or the energy Venables, Baranczyk and Moser brought, there was plenty of juice among the Sooners fans who packed the historic venue.

NFL Draft 2022:Isaiah Thomas, Perrion Winfrey & Co. will likely help keep this Sooners' streak alive

Brent Venables had the crowd fired up Thursday night during the OU Coaches' Caravan stop at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa.

“It gives us a chance to connect with the most passionate fan base in all of sports — in all of college,” Venables said before the event began.

“For us to connect and re-communicate our visions of our programs and show an appreciation, a thankfulness, a gratitude for the support, for the love, the passion and be able to convey the things it’s going to take to be our best in each of our particular programs. It’s really a neat opportunity for us to fist-bump and connect in a different, intimate level.”

In a conversation on the stage with OU radio voice Toby Rowland, Venables again marveled at Saturday’s crowd of 75,000-plus at the OU spring game, went in depth — once again — about his SOUL Mission program, touched on his feelings on the effect of name, image, and likeness rules on the program and a variety of other topics.

But the main theme of Venables’ talks — both in an interview session before the caravan program and on the stage with Rowland — was on building the program from the bottom up.

“When you focus on the root and you don’t focus on the fruit — the fruit being the wins and the success — success is a byproduct of making sure that the root is right,” Venables said.

“We get one chance to do things right and lay the foundation and make sure that we emphasize the right things, that we keep the main thing the main thing, that we’re relationship-driven in everything we do. That takes time. Our culture is a foundation of relations. It’s a foundation of structure and accountability and discipline. You can set discipline and love together.”

Walking into the venue, Baranczyk and Moser stopped to chat with fans and take photos.

“It felt unbelievable pulling up and seeing a long line of Sooner red all the way down the street,” Moser said. “Last time we saw that was when we played Arkansas here, and that was a fun day. It was so cool seeing this. I’ve heard about the caravan. …. I’ve heard how cool it’s been. And then to see the numbers that they’re going to have today and then to literally pull up and see the line — man, what a greeting by Tulsa.”

Venables wrapped up his portion of the night by grabbing the mic and chanting “Boomer” repeatedly a few times to an enthusiastic response of “Sooner” from the audience. He finished with a single, “Texas,” answered — of course — by “Sucks.”

Tramel:Why the NCAA should let undrafted football players to return to school after NFL Draft

OU Coaches' Caravan notebook

► Venables on the impending move to the SEC: “I’m incredibly excited. My cup overflows. … I don’t have my head in the sand. It’s tough to win.” Venables said he thought about the move “at least once a day,” but said he thinks about “everything all the time.”

► Venables said he’s completed “almost 80” exit interviews with players following the conclusion of spring practice and though he didn’t know of any other players leaving — wide receiver Cody Jackson entered the portal — but said there was a “possibility” of more movement through the portal. 

► Venables said he was encouraged by the tone of the exit interviews he’s conducted so far. “It’s been a lot of fun,” Venables said. 

► Moser said he was surprised by Umoja Gibson’s decision to enter the transfer portal, but added that Elijah Harkless’ decision was less surprising, even though both had told him at one point that they’d return. “I could sit here and complain about it (the portal) all day. But at the end of the day, I’m going to find people that want to wear this OU jersey proudly. They want to be in this program.”

► Moser spoke highly of George Washington transfer Joe Bamisile. “Athleticism and length and his ability to score,” Moser said. Bamisile averaged 16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks last season after transferring from Virginia Tech. Bamisile will need an NCAA waiver if he is to become immediately eligible.

Tramel's ScissorTales:Big 12's performance in NFL Draft helps show why OU & Texas are headed to the SEC

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser shouts during a men's Big 12 basketball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Oklahoma won 72-59.

► Moser said Clayton Custer, the director of video operations, is currently recruiting as he works to fill the spot opened on his coaching staff when David Patrick left to take the head coaching job at Sacramento State. “Clayton is a rock star,” Moser said. 

► Moser also said Bijan Cortes, whose playing time dipped late in his freshman year, has handled the late-season adversity well. “He was a great teammate. He never let it bother anybody — but it bothered him, but he didn’t let it show. That’s what you want. I don’t want him to be happy he didn’t play.”

► Baranczyk said she was pleased with the progress made by Ana Llanusa in her rehab after Llanusa suffered a season-ending injury in December. “She looks great right now,” Baranczyk said. “We don’t have a date yet, but she’s ahead of schedule.” She said Llanusa had started some basketball activities, including running and jumping recently.

► Baranczyk’s squad will go on a foreign tour before next season but said she was unsure if Llanusa would be able to play during that tour.

► After making the NCAA Tournament this season, Baranczyk said the team was in a strong position going into the offseason with the return of Llanusa, Madi Williams and Taylor Robertson as the core. “To be able to have them come back and choose to come back, especially in this landscape, is huge. And to be as motivated as they are and to lead as well as they are, there’s really good things going to happen in this program this year.”