Keeping his coaches happy is how Swinney has kept Clemson winning

Keeping his coaches happy is how Swinney has kept Clemson winning


Keeping his coaches happy is how Swinney has kept Clemson winning


Since he became Clemson’s defensive coordinator in 2012, Brent Venables has turned the Tigers into one of the best defensive football teams year-in and year-out in college football.

Clemson is always at the top when it comes to total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, sacks, tackles for loss and defensive efficiency. Few, if any, do it better. Venables has also been loyal to the Tigers and head coach Dabo Swinney.

In his 10 seasons at Clemson, Venables has had numerous opportunities to become a head coach, but he has turned down each of those opportunities. In turn, Swinney and Clemson returned the favor by once again making Venables the highest paid assistant coach in college football.

Earlier this week, the Clemson University Board of Trustees Compensation Committee approved a contract extension for Venables, while bumping his salary up $100,000 to $2.5 million annually. He is now under contract through January 31, 2026.

According to USA TODAY Sports’ compensation report, Venables’ $2.5 million salary should be ranked No. 1 in terms of highest paid assistant coaches this coming year, followed by Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s $2.1 million and Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott’s $2.0.

“That was important to Dabo,” Radakovich said about Venables becoming the highest paid assistant in college football. “That was one of his motivations in moving him up $100,000.”

Back in February, the board approved a three-year extension and a $300,000 raise for Elliott which will run through January 31, 2026, as well.

“If you look over the past six or seven years, part of the secret sauce, if there really is any, as it relates to the success of our football program, is the fact that Dabo has been able to retain his assistants,” Radakovich said. “He likes that, it is great for the players, they have that constant voice. It is good for Dabo, he continues to have the same people around him and that is something that I think is really important for the success of our program. And we have had success.

“So, I think rewarding that success is important. We have been able to do that. The board has been very helpful in making that happen and we wanted to make sure we continued that into this year.”

Since 2015, Elliott has been either the co-offensive coordinator or coordinator. He shared the position with Jeff Scott—now the head coach at South Florida—through the 2019 season. Last year was his first year running the offense on his own.

Elliott has been at Clemson since 2011, when he came on as the running backs coach and learned the Tigers’ offensive scheme under former offensive coordinator Chad Morris.

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