Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables told an Arkansas radio host on Monday that his representatives have spoken to Arkansas about its head coaching vacancy.
Bo Mattingly of SportsTalk, a syndicated radio show in Arkansas, asked Venables if he is a candidate for the Arkansas job or does he consider himself to be a candidate.
“That is a tough thing to answer,” said Venables who is in Arkansas with co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott as part of the Frank Broyles Award presentation for the nation’s best assistant coach. “The week before last … I have not spoken with anybody, but my representatives have. And I will just leave that at that.”
It had been reported that Arkansas was interested in Venables following Clemson’s win over South Carolina on Nov. 26. But this is the first time in which Venables and his camp have admitted that they at least where in contact with the SEC school.
A report on Monday by SI.com’s Bruce Feldman says that Venables is also a strong candidate for the head coaching job at Tennessee.
“I’ve had opportunities to be a head coach throughout my career and as recently as last week, but my moral compass has told me to be loyal to where I am,” Venables told Mattingly as well on Monday.
Venables shot down the rumors last week about the Arkansas job reported by several outlets that he was a candidate to replace Bret Bielema at Arkansas.
“My focus is completely on this game and this week and the great job that I do have and the great players I get to coach every day,” he said at the time. “My focus is right here.”
Venables admitted he was annoyed by the questions as the top-ranked Tigers were getting set to play Miami in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson of course won the game, 38-3, for its third straight conference championship.
“Well, since ya’ll bring it up, it is annoying,” Venables said. “I don’t hear about it otherwise, whatever is out there because I just don’t spend any time focused on that.
“I have a got a great job and again, I have said that many, many times. I am very thankful and grateful for that. We are in a great position so why would I be worried about what is on the other side of the fence. I have always felt that way.”
Venables understands when you do a good job others will notice and opportunities are going to open up if he chooses to approach them.
“If people have interest that is part of it. You ether decide to listen or not,” Clemson’s defensive coordinator said. “And though right now, we have a tremendous opportunity this week playing for a championship and my loyalty is here and to my players.”
Venables in his sixth season at Clemson, who he just helped 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).
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.
Venables won the Frank Broyles Award last year as the nation’s best assistant coach. He is in Arkansas with Elliott as a former winner. Elliott is a finalist for the award this year.