May 27, 2024

Brent Venables, the head coach of Oklahoma football, is facing a setback as one of his key assistants departs for a Texas university. J.R. Sandlin, a crucial member of Oklahoma’s coaching staff, is leaving to join SMU, according to Sports Illustrated. Sandlin, who played a significant role in recruiting for the Sooners, served as the director of player personnel and recruiting at Oklahoma. At SMU, he will assume the role of assistant athletic director and general manager as the school transitions to the ACC.

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Sandlin arrived at Oklahoma alongside head coach Brent Venables in late 2021 and played an instrumental role in the team’s resurgence after a disappointing 6-7 season in 2022. During the 2023 season, with Sandlin serving as an assistant, the Sooners achieved a notable improvement, winning 10 games under Venables’ leadership before concluding the season with a loss in the Alamo Bowl to Arizona.

The departure of Sandlin adds to the ongoing changes within the Oklahoma football program, as the school prepares to transition from the Big 12 Conference to the SEC in 2024, alongside Texas. Additionally, the Sooners are making adjustments to their coaching staff, including the appointment of Jolie Ale as the new director of on-campus recruiting, as reported by The Oklahoman.

Before joining Oklahoma football, Sandlin gained experience at various institutions such as Jacksonville State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Alabama. A former tight end at UCF, Sandlin also pursued a career as a high school coach after his playing days, as noted by Sports Illustrated. In his new role at SMU, Sandlin will play a pivotal part in helping the Mustangs compete in the ACC, a power 5 conference that entails extensive travel for road games, spanning both the West and East Coasts. Oklahoma football is scheduled to kick off its 2024 season with a home game against Temple on August 31st.

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