Replacing Venables is a daunting task. Wes Goodwin will just try to be himself.

Replacing Venables is a daunting task. Wes Goodwin will just try to be himself.


Replacing Venables is a daunting task. Wes Goodwin will just try to be himself.


Wes Goodwin is a football junkie.

From his very first opportunity at Mississippi State, Goodwin completely immersed himself into the world of coaching. 

Goodwin’s first real coaching opportunity came as a student at Mississippi State, where he was an assistant under legendary baseball coach Ron Polk. He eventually shifted his attention to football — which had always been a dream of his — and the rest is history.

Now, he’s been dealt the tough task of replacing Brent Venables, though he served as the now-Oklahoma head coach’s right-hand man, for years and years. 

After Venables accepted the job at Oklahoma, Goodwin was just waiting on a phone call. Whether it would be from his mentor or Clemson coach Dabo Swinney remained to be seen, but he was seemingly good either way.

Obviously, we now know that Goodwin chose to stay at Clemson. He didn’t elaborate on the position he was offered on Venables’ staff, but it surely wasn’t like the one he holds now.

“It wasn’t the defensive coordinator and linebacker’s job at Clemson,” he said with a smirk.

Goodwin met with reporters on Saturday for the first time since he accepted his new role.

“I thought I had a great opportunity,” Goodwin added. “Me and Brent have worked great over the years — seven years together — have tremendous respect for him. I just came in every day with the mindset that I was gonna learn as much ball as I can from him. There’s so many great examples over the years where we’re almost thinking the same thing at the exact same time.”

While stepping into the shoes of a legendary defensive coordinator is daunting in itself, Goodwin and Venables aren’t all too different from a scheme perspective. They weren’t so much finishing each other’s sentences, but they were always seemingly on the same page.

“Philosophically, we’re both very aggressive,” he said. “I want to take the fight to the offense and be very aggressive play-calling wise. Philosophically, we’re very similar. Obviously, I’ll put my stamp on it and add some other concepts I’ve learned from other places I’ve been and continue to grow our scheme and try to stay at the forefront of college football.”

Personality-wise? Well, that’s a different story.

Goodwin has a lot of passion for the game, but he’s not going to completely emulate Venbales’ style. That’s just not who he is. He’s gonna be himself, rather than a rah-rah, energetic presence. That’s something he learned serving as Bruce Arians’ assistant, back when the legendary head coach was with the Arizona Cardinals.

“Just being myself,” he said. “Don’t try to be anyone else, just be myself.”

It’s one of the biggest takeaways he learned from his time under Arians. Well that, and a lot of blitzing too.

“No risk it, no biscuit,” Goodwin said while cracking a smile.

While Goodwin has never called plays before, he prepared every day as if he was a play-caller. He would run through games and in his mind, he would play the game out. 

“Every day for the last 10-12 years that I’ve been in this profession, I’ve always thought of the big picture, preparing myself for this moment,” he said. “It’s been years and years of time spent studying the game.”

That hard work paid off. It’s why no one within the confines of the Clemson football program was surprised when Swinney announced that he would be promoting Goodwin to his current role. The reaction from his players says it all.

He had other opportunities to go elsewhere, including following Venables to Norman, but as a “small-town guy,” Clemson is like paradise for Goodwin. 

The allure of the NFL was enticing, but not quite tempting enough.

“I’m here, right?” Goodwin said. 

“I’m a bloom where I’m planted guy,” he added. “I’m in no rush to leave a place like Clemson. The people here are unbelievable. It’s more about the people than the job, to me. I love this place. I love Coach Swinney. I love everybody in this building. I have great respect for everybody. I have great respect for the university…we’ve set our roots here and plan to be here for the long haul.”

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