Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney hires Brent Venables as new defensive coordinator

Program impresses new defensive coordinator
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney (right) hired Brent Venables (left), who was Oklahoma's defensive coordinator, for the vacant defensive job for the Tigers.



CLEMSON, S.C. — Brent Venables didn’t watch much of Clemson’s Orange Bowl debacle earlier this month. He’s ready to make sure, though, that it never again happens to a Tigers defense.

Venables, who spent the past 13 years in charge of Oklahoma’s defense, was introduced as Clemson’s new coordinator Friday.

He said he was visiting a recruit at home during the Tigers’ BCS embarrassment, when they gave up a bowl-record 70 points to West Virginia.

“They have nothing to be ashamed of around here. They just won the ACC and they’re going in the right direction,” Venables said. “I’ve been on both sides of it and sometimes that happens.”

Venables visited campus last weekend with his wife, Julie, and was instantly impressed with Clemson’s facilities and coaches who took pride in making sure the program was the best it could be.

“Name me the places where that takes place,” Venables said. “You could probably do it on one hand.”

Venables, 41, was in one of those places with the Sooners, who he helped win a national title in 2000 and played in three other BCS title games. Venables said he wouldn’t have made the move if he didn’t believe Clemson had the same chance for continual, top-flight success as Oklahoma.

“Absolutely we’ll win,” he said. “I’ve got great confidence.”

Venables and Clemson agreed to a four-year deal worth $800,000 a season.

A week after the embarrassing Orange Bowl loss, coach Dabo Swinney and Kevin Steele, the former Baylor head coach who was the Tigers’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, agreed that a change was needed.

Swinney texted Venables on Jan. 12 – the night he parted with Steele – and the longtime Oklahoma assistant called Clemson’s third-year coach about five minutes later. The two spent the next three hours on the phone.

Swinney still had several other candidates to chat with, but wanted Venables on campus as quickly as possible. Venables agreed to the job Wednesday night.

“The needle (at Clemson) to me is pointing in one direction, and that’s up,” Venables said.