Clemson University

Venables has learned a lot from Dabo. And it helps explain why he’s still at Clemson

Dabo Swinney explains how Clemson has remained successful

Tigers will face Notre Dame in Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29
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Tigers will face Notre Dame in Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29

Another year of schools reaching out to Brent Venables to try to lure him away from Clemson to take a head coaching job. Another year that it appears the Tigers’ defensive coordinator will stay put.

It has become almost a tradition at this time each year that arguably the top assistant coach in the country is sought after to lead his own program.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported last week that Venables has been pursued by at least two schools for head coaching jobs, and Venables confirmed that he spoke with Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt when the Red Raiders job was vacant. Still, there are no signs that Venables will be leaving Clemson any time soon.

“I don’t know if he has or hasn’t (been contacted), but I think Brent just loves Clemson. He loves our environment here. His family loves it here. And he loves what he does,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said. “There’s nothing wrong with being the best at what you do, being passionate about it. He’s like that.”

One reason Venables is still at Clemson is the environment that Swinney has created within the program.

Venables is known as an intense coach and a perfectionist, but Swinney has taught him how to enjoy the fun that comes from winning and winning big. The Tigers are in the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive year and have won four consecutive ACC titles.

“I recognize how the culture is very different, and it’s unique in a lot of ways. ... And I’m just very, very, very thankful to be a part of it,” Venables said. “He’s relentless about demanding that we enjoy it and our players enjoy it and have a great experience. So I love that. And I was very attracted to that ... When you focus on just the winning and the championships and the end result, it can be fatalistic. And at the end of the day, the players feel that. And that’s not what collegiate athletics should be about.”

While Clemson is appreciative of Venables and what he has brought to the Tigers program, consistently producing top five defenses, Venables is also appreciative of Clemson and what Swinney has done for his life and his career.

“He’s got just an unbelievable perspective and just constantly reminding us why it’s all good ... He’s an unbelievable leader, just very inspiring. He gets the best out of everyone, and it’s a very unique quality,” Venables said. “He makes everyone around him better. That’s what he’s done for me, whether it’s perspective, challenging you, strategy wise or just developing you every way in every part of your life. He just has a great perspective on just having a balance to your life. It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to live it. To be a part of that is pretty neat.”

Even though Venables has not left for a head coaching job yet, Swinney knows that it is possible he will down the road.

But for now, Venables seems content crafting top defenses year after year.

“That doesn’t mean that he won’t be a head coach one day. It would take a very special situation, I think. I don’t think he’s driven by that. He’s driven by pushing people backwards and not letting people score. He loves that,” Swinney said. “And he’s passionate about these players and the guys he gets to coach every day. And we’ve got an incredible relationship. He’s just so awesome to work with every day.”

College Football Playoff schedule

Orange Bowl

The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) will face No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 29 (ESPN) in Miami in a matchup of Heisman Trophy front-runner quarterbacks — Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and the Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Cotton Bowl

The No. 2 ACC champion Clemson Tigers (13-0) will play No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) in the Cotton Bowl at 4 p.m. Dec. 29 (ESPN) at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The State.com

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