Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been a rock for Dabo Swinney, leading that side of Clemson football since 2012. Every time he’s come up for a major head coaching job, he hasn’t shown significant interest in leaving the Tigers.
After a solid tenure under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Venables has thrived at Clemson. He’s fielded one of the best defenses annually since 2012, winning two national titles. In 2016, he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
His name has popped up pretty regularly in connection to Power Five openings over the last few years. In 2017, he reportedly had interest from Arkansas, which would hire another former Clemson coordinator, Chad Morris. More recently, he turned down the chance to interview for the Texas Tech job, which went to Utah State head coach Matt Wells. A few years ago, he said that he wouldn’t want to be the one to replace legendary coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State, and per a new Yahoo report, turned down the chance to interview for the Florida State job after last season.
For a while it looked like he might be comfortable being the Bud Foster to Dabo Swinney’s Frank Beamer. That seems to be shifting though. Those close to Venables tell Yahoo Sports‘ Pete Thamel that he recognizes that if he ever wants to be a head coach, the time may be coming.
Here’s my expansive list of rising coordinators (both Power 5 and G5) and position coaches who are positioned to be factors in coaching searches. Love researching and writing these. And I know *everyone* will agree with all the inclusions and rankings. https://t.co/yFQ1yUbjgW
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 11, 2020
“But there’s been a shift in Venables’ perspective, according to a person familiar with his thinking,” Thamel reports. “Now more than ever, Venables is open to listen to any top-30 caliber jobs.”
Venables, 49, has long preached loyalty to his players and avoiding distractions, and he’s wanted to live that himself. But he’s also come to the realization that those high-end opportunities are rare. “If he’s going to be a head coach, the time is approaching,” said a source with knowledge of Venables’ thinking.
Venables has loved working for Dabo, raising his family in the area and relished the entire Clemson experience. But he’s also come to realize that if he continues to not interview when people knock on his door, they’re going to eventually stop knocking. (Venables declined comment for this story.)
As Thamel notes, Brent Venables’ sons play at Clemson, and if he’s looking to win big, there are very few of those jobs that open every year, and many of them may look for established head coaches from smaller programs over defensive coordinator.
Still, it is an interesting shift from where things have generally been for the Clemson football stalwart.
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