January 27, 2022

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OU football hires Jay Valai from Alabama to complete Brent Venables’ coaching staff

OU football hires Jay Valai as Brent Venables completes coaching staff

Oklahoma football coach Brent Venables completed his coaching staff on Tuesday, hiring Jay Valai as a co-defensive coordinator/pass defense coach. Valai, who spent this season at Alabama, will be in charge of the Sooners’ cornerbacks and nicklebacks.

The former Wisconsin defensive back has also coached at Texas, Rutgers and Georgia. Valai, a Euless, Texas, native, also spent the 2018 season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a secondary assistant.

Former Alabama football cornerback coach Jay Valai who has taken the Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator job.

Former Alabama football cornerback coach Jay Valai who has taken the Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator job.

“Jay is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” Venables said in a release. “He brings a tremendous amount of passion and energy to the job, as well as a real love for the game and for relationship-building. He’s experienced the game collegiately at the highest level as a player at Wisconsin and has gained terrific coaching experience on the NFL and college levels. He’ll bring a lot of great ideas from a scheme standpoint, he’s one of the best teachers in the game and he’s got a great reputation as a recruiter. He’s going to be a head coach sooner rather than later. Sometimes you know when guys have ‘it,’ and Jay certainly has it.

“I met him on the recruiting trail years ago and immediately connected with him. Our philosophies meshed and I really liked his passion for the game and his desire to be a great leader. So we exchanged numbers and stayed in touch. He loves his craft and is mature beyond his years regarding X’s and O’s and the teaching of all defensive positions. I’ve 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 about him. We set time aside to clinic on the phone or even in person, and would also talk a lot about people, relationships and things like that. A lot of our values aligned as husbands and fathers, and certainly as coaches in this profession. Really excited for Jay and his wife and children to get to Norman. Our players will love his expertise, his passion and his ability to connect.”

In OU’s release Valai said:

“Coach Venables and I met on the road recruiting years ago and he has always been awesome to me as a mentor. We both love football so much and I’ve loved talking about the nuances of the game with him. Just going back and forth with ideas and thoughts, scheme adjustments and so on. We just really clicked. But I also really admire his passion. That’s one thing you can’t hide in life, and Coach Venables is one of the most passionate and authentic human beings you could ever meet.

“Alabama has been awesome and Nick Saban is the G.O.A.T. I learned so much working under him and we have a tremendous relationship. He and Miss Terry have been amazing to my family and me. But to get the opportunity to be closer to home working for an Oklahoma program 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’s beyond a blessing to be part of Sooner Nation.”

In other news, OU has lost another player to the transfer portal. Cornerback Latrell McCutchin has entered the portal after playing in nine games this season as a freshman. He said in a tweet that he was moving on due to coaching staff changes at OU.

McCutchin recorded nine tackles and two forced fumbles. He started once, against Western Carolina.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Wake Forest running back Christian Beal-Smith, the Demon Deacons’ leading rusher the past two years, is transferring to South Carolina.

Beal-Smith’s addition continues a hot offseason for the Gamecocks and coach Shane Beamer. Ex-Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner joined the program last month.

Beal-Smith led Wake Forest with 732 yards in 2020. He gained 604 yards this past season as the Demon Deacons won the ACC Atlantic Division.

Rodgers to skip Super Bowl? No way

Aaron Rodgers called the rumor he would boycott the Super Bowl this year, should the Green Bay Packers advance to the game, “the dumbest (expletive) thing I’ve heard” and “so ridiculously off-base.”

“I’ve given a lot less (expletive) the last couple years but one thing I do give a major (expletive) about is ridiculous narratives about me,” Rodgers said Tuesday during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show.”

The latest Rodgers-centered drama stemmed from a segment last week on New York sports radio station WFAN, where morning host Boomer Esiason – a former NFL quarterback – had his co-host Gregg Giannotti read a text from another person who claimed they had heard from Rodgers’ “direct circle.”

The text alleged an elaborate plan for Rodgers to sit out the Super Bowl due to his displeasure with the league and its COVID-19 protocols. Rodgers, who is unvaccinated, missed a game during the regular season after testing positive for COVID-19.

ETC.: Brian Flores, who was fired as Miami Dolphins coach Monday, is planning to interview with the Bears for their head coaching job, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

Flores was fired by owner Stephen Ross after going 9-8 this season, including 8-1 over the last nine games. After compiling a 10-6 record last year, Flores is expected to draw interest for multiple vacancies.

MLB owners, union to meet again

Major League Baseball and the players’ association are scheduled to meet Thursday, ending a 42-day break in negotiations that began when management started a lockout in the sport’s first work stoppage since 1995.

With the scheduled start of spring training five weeks away, management was planning to make a new proposal to players, several people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Extra points

HIGH SCHOOLS: Broken Arrow’s Mackenzie McGuire was announced Tuesday as the Gatorade Oklahoma Volleyball Player of the Year. McGuire, a 6-foot-1 senior outside hitter, is the third volleyball player from her school to receive the prestigious award. She is a Kent State commitment.

WRESTLING: Former Oklahoma assistant coach Barry Weldon will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame. Weldon, who wrestled at Madill High School for a year before moving to Colorado, was a two-time All-American at Iowa State. He won the national championship at 177 pounds in 1997.

GOLF: Six years after Tom Watson played the Masters for the 43rd time, the two-time champion returns in April to hit the ceremonial tee shot alongside Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Watson, who held off Nicklaus in his Masters victories in 1977 and 1981, becomes the 11th player to be an honorary starter dating to 1963.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: The Feb. 16 women’s basketball game between Oklahoma State and Kansas in Lawrence has been moved to Feb. 2. Several Big 12 games have been rescheduled due to health and safety protocols. …

The Big East announced that No. 23 Providence’s game at Creighton on Tuesday night has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues in the Friars’ program.

NHL: The Boston Bruins have signed Tuukka Rask for the rest of the season, bringing back the winningest goalie in franchise history after he recovered from offseason hip surgery. …

New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz and defenseman Ryan Pulock were placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday. Trotz just returned to the team Saturday after taking a leave of absence. Pulock hasn’t played since Nov. 15 because of a lower-body injury.

Staff and wire reports

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU football hires Jay Valai from Alabama to complete coaching staff

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