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Venables: Oklahoma embracing move to 'unforgiving' SEC

Brian Bahr / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Oklahoma is embracing a new challenge - the school officially became a member of the SEC alongside longtime rival Texas on Monday.

"This year is, obviously, incredibly important," head coach Brent Venables said on "The Paul Finebaum Show" about the school's transition from the Big 12 to the SEC. "We've worked really hard the last couple of years to prepare for this moment. But what's sitting in front of us right now is trying to put together the best roster that we can and have these guys as well prepared as we can."

The Sooners and Longhorns initially planned to join the SEC in 2025 but reached a financial agreement with the Big 12 to exit the conference early.

Venables signed a six-year contract that added two additional years to his current deal and will keep him with Oklahoma through 2029. The 53-year-old has been with Oklahoma since December 2021.

The Sooners rebounded from a 6-7 mark in 2022 to a post a 10-3 record in 2023, which included a win in the Red River Rivalry game over Texas.

In Oklahoma's debut SEC campaign, the program will play out a grueling slate in what Venables deems "the most unforgiving league there is in America." Road matchups against LSU and Missouri, a neutral-site meeting with Texas, and home games against Tennessee and Alabama await the Sooners this fall.

The Sooners have captured 14 Big 12 titles since 2000, but they're poised to face stiffer competition in a conference that has produced six national champions since the start of the College Football Playoff in 2014.

"We're running towards the SEC with great expectations and excitement, and again, this will be a launching point for this program moving forward," Venables said.

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