'I don't want to speculate on the future': Venables talks current state of Bedlam rivalry

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Jul. 14—ARLINGTON, Tex. — The future of the Bedlam rivalry has been a big topic at Big 12 Media Days.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy got to offer the first opinion on the 116-year rivalry Wednesday. On Thursday, it was OU coach Brent Venables' turn.

Venables is no stranger to the in-state rivalry. He has coached against the Cowboys for two decades and acknowledged the significance of the rivalry. However, he's not interested in speculating about the future.

"I'm not going to talk about the move, but I am focused on winning the state," Venables said. "It's an incredibly important game. There's a long history and tradition over 100 years of playing Bedlam and regardless of however the scores have been or the success of one place or the other, it's important from a foundational standpoint.

"You've got to have some hate in your heart for your rival."

Venables' comments aren't a sharp contrast to Gundy's, but the Oklahoma State coach sounded more pessimistic about the viability of the rivalry moving forward.

"I've got great respect for Mike [Gundy] and the success and the program, the coaches, their players," Venables said. "They obviously have done a lot of things really well. But for us, when the time comes, that's a tremendous focus but year-round in this state, that's important to so many people.

"It brings a lot of joy and a lot of heartache to a lot of people, so it'll be a great focus for us and exciting at the last week of the season so we'll meet up again so that's my thoughts on all of that. "

Venables brings the numbers

During his opening press conference, Venables shared some insight on the makeup of the Sooners' rosters.

Per Venables, 40 percent of the fall camp roster are brand new players — 33 scholarship players (15 transfers) and 15 walk-ons. Those 15 transfers have combined to start 243 games.

The Sooners return 12 total starters, six on offense and six on defense. Venables estimated 50 percent of the roster is upperclassmen and 13 players are graduate students.

Sooners land 4-star running back

The Sooners continue to boost their 2023 class.

4-star running back Daylan Smothers announced his commitment to the Sooners Thursday, choosing them over Alabama, NC State and Florida State.

The Charlotte, North Carolina native is the second 4-star running back to join the class along with Kalib Hicks.

Fall camp

Venables announced the start of OU's fall camp is set for Thursday, Aug. 4.

Jesse Crittenden is the sports editor of The Transcript and covers OU athletics. Reach him at jesse@normantranscript.com or at 405-366-3580