Commentary: Clemson defensive coordinator has to feel a sense of loyalty and trust before he could leave Tigertown
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables told Bo Mattingly of SportsTalk, a syndicated radio show in Arkansas, on Monday that he has had opportunities to be a head coach throughout his career, and as recently as last week, but his moral compass has told him to be loyal to Clemson.
Venables is reportedly a candidate to replace Bret Bielema at Arkansas. He has also been linked to the opening at Tennessee as well.
“What fulfills you brings you confidence or is trust, loyalty, appreciation or when you feel you have credibility,” Venables told The Clemson Insider last summer. “Then you have to start completely over, and you really don’t understand it until you are in the middle of it. It’s not like you can just say, ‘I’m just going to pack my trust suitcase, my reliability suitcase and my years of experience suitcase. I’m a people person so I’m going to mesh with everybody.’
“It takes time to develop relationships and it takes time to develop trust. It takes time to develop credibility. You don’t have those national championships that that you coached. You don’t have those All-Americans that you coached and all the years of the tremendous success that you were a part of. You don’t bring that with you.”
Venables is not one for just taking a job to take a job. He isn’t one of those coaches who bounces around from job-to-job. Prior to coming to Clemson in 2012, he was at Oklahoma for 13 seasons and then was at Kansas State, his alma mater, for six seasons before that.
“Coaching can be a vicious and nasty cycle,” Venables said. “The way I looked at it, now you have to move and change jobs every three or four years or you are going to be chasing a job. I never wanted to be one of those coaches that were a vagabond coach living out of a suitcase and trying to go from this contract to that contract and did not have a place to call home or a place to call family.
“So I felt maybe people did not understand what my intentions were. I did not come to Clemson so I could get a head job because for some reason I could not parlay a head coaching job from where I was, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t know me. Nobody asked me if that is what I thought.”
In his six seasons at Clemson, Venables has turned the Tigers into one of the best units in the country year in and year out. The defending national champions have finished four straight years in the top 10 in total defense and can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma.
Now people wonder, when will Venables leave to be a head coach? He says that’s the natural order of things.
“There is complication with that,” Venables said smiling. “I have a great job here. I work at a great place. It’s not just my job. Yes, I’m the defensive coordinator and I make whatever I make. But I work every day at Clemson for Clemson. I value, incredibly what I have, and I have always valued that. That’s why I came here.
“When Coach (Dabo Swinney) interviewed me back in 2012, he asked me why I was interested in Clemson. I told him, ‘I have been watching from afar. I knew he recruited well, it is an incredible place in the country to work and to live and I heard that from many people that lived and worked in this part of the country and from the outside looking in, everything is sitting in front of it with the opportunity to explode. I want to be a small part in helping to build that.’”
Venables in his sixth season at Clemson, and he just helped the Tigers land in the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed. The Tigers have now made the College Football Playoff for a third straight year.
Currently, Clemson’s defense ranks No. 6 nationally (277.9 ypg) in total defense.
Last February, Venables signed a new one-year deal worth $1.7 million overall. His contract currently ranks second nationally among assistant coaches behind LSU’s Dave Aranda’s $1.8 million as its defensive coordinator.