Oklahoma coaches among Snyder's disciples

Tuesday, November 15th 2005, 8:26 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Bill Snyder gave Chuck Long a chance to play college football and Brent Venables his first coaching gig.

Without Snyder's help, it's possible neither one would be in the position he's in now on the coaching staff at Oklahoma under another Snyder disciple, Bob Stoops. Snyder, 66, announced Tuesday that he would retire as Kansas State's coach after Saturday's game against Missouri. Either Long or Venables could emerge as a candidate to succeed Snyder.

Long was the quarterback of a run-oriented offense at Wheaton (Ill.) North High School when Snyder, then an assistant at Iowa, was the first college coach to come calling.

``We were not a throwing team in high school,'' Long said Tuesday. ``If you were recruiting now with 85 scholarships, you're not recruiting me. We threw the ball five times a game in high school and didn't get many phone calls.''

Snyder and Iowa coach Hayden Fry turned Long into a top-notch college quarterback. He set Big Ten passing records for yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage on his way to a second-place finish in the 1985 Heisman Trophy voting.

``I've always been very thankful that they did take a chance,'' Long said.

Long said he was surprised by Snyder's sudden retirement after 17 years at Kansas State, where he took a downtrodden program to 11 straight bowl games.

But is he interested in replacing Snyder, who he called his best position coach he ever had?

``I haven't thought about any of that. It's so sudden,'' Long said. ``I would listen to different things and different opportunities, of course. That's an excellent opportunity for somebody, but right now I haven't thought about that.''

Long has been Oklahoma's offensive coordinator since 2002 and was the Sooners' passing game coordinator for three years before that. He got his coaching start at Iowa in 1995 after playing eight seasons in the NFL.

Long said he has never sought another job and doesn't plan to now.

``I would look at anything that came along, but at the same time I'm very happy here. I'm excited about our program _ where it is, what we've done so far this year from where we started and where it can go in the future, I think,'' Long said.

Long, 42, and his wife, Lisa, have five children. He said his family is happy in Oklahoma and he doesn't have a timetable for when he'd like to become a head coach.

``I've enjoyed it here. I am not in a big hurry. I think some guys get in a big hurry at times. I want to make sure it's the right situation at the right time because I do enjoy it and we've had a lot of great success here and we're not going away. We're going to continue to have success.

``I do aspire to be a head coach, but it has to be the right situation for me and my family.''

While Long has ties to Snyder, Venables has strong links to Kansas State. Stoops recruited him to play for the Wildcats, and he coached at Kansas State from 1993 to 1998 before leaving to become a co-defensive coordinator for Stoops at Oklahoma.

Venables, 34, grew up in Salina, Kan., and has two children with his wife, Julie.

Stoops said Venables would be a ``great fit'' with the Wildcats. He thinks it's only natural that Venables would be considered as a candidate, but not so soon after Snyder retired.

``To me, it'd be way too premature right now for that to happen. That's something that will be talked about and discussed,'' Stoops said. ``I'm all for my coaches _ Brent and everyone else _ for what they want in their coaching careers, and they're very good coaches.

``Brent's an excellent coach, so if that's something that goes in a positive direction, I'm all for it.''

Long said he thinks Venables' experience as Oklahoma's defensive coordinator has prepared him to become a head coach.

``Brent's very organized. He's an excellent motivator, an excellent coach. He's had great success with his linebackers and defensive schemes, and he's been a good recruiter,'' Long said. ``Those are things that will shine for a future athletic director.''