Brent Venables doesn't want to screw up happy


by - Senior Writer -
Venables is happy doing what he does at Clemson.
Venables is happy doing what he does at Clemson.

CLEMSON – Brent Venables wants to feel valued and supported, and he feels like he has that at Clemson. That’s why he doesn’t want to screw up being happy.

Venables is heading into this 10th season at the helm of the Clemson defense and is regarded by many as the nation’s best defensive coordinator. Two weeks ago, the Clemson Board of Trustees Compensation Committee reward him with a $100,000 raise that increased his annual salary to $2.5 million, extended his commitment to 2026, and cemented his spot as the highest-paid assistant coach in college football.

Venables told the media last week that he has never gone to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney or athletic director Dan Radakovich and asked for a raise because he knows the administration will always do the right thing.

“I think we all, whatever profession we are in, want support and to feel valued and certainly to have some level of security,” Venables said. “In a profession where it's hard to get, (Brent's wife) Julie and I are certainly very, very thankful for the belief and the support. And it's been that way since the day I got here. It's very humbling.”

Venables has been offered head coaching jobs, but in his word, why screw up happy?

“If that happens that’s not the worst thing that could ever happen, I’ve never thought so much of myself that I looked at life that way,” Venables said. “You want fulfillment, and you don’t want to screw up happy and that’s easy to do if you’re not careful. I’m able to come to work every day to chase and fulfill my purpose every day. So, whether I’m in a head coach’s office or I’m down the hall I’m leading, teaching and doing what I want to do.”

What makes Clemson special? Venables detailed the reasons.

“The people, the opportunity to be successful, the players, the type of people you can recruit, the young people, the established environment and established culture is hard to beat,” Venables said. “You have a beautiful, simple life in a very connected community and campus.”

In his 25 years as a full-time assistant coach, his teams have 25 winning seasons, have been to 29 bowl games and have won 10+ games 21 times. He has coached in eight national championship games, helping Clemson to four berths and two titles. Also has a 13-2 mark in 15 conference championship games in which he’s coached, including a 6-0 record in ACC Championship Games with Clemson.

Clemson led the ACC in total defense (326.8 yards per game) in 2020 for the fourth time in five years. His 2020 group produced 46 sacks, tied for the most in the nation, despite no single player producing more than 4.5. A total of 21 Clemson players contributed at least half a sack, the most in the country and the most in a season in the Dabo Swinney era.

Venables understands those numbers make him a hot commodity, but he also knows that success doesn’t always translate in other locations.

“You don’t want to screw up a good thing and I’ve seen a lot of coaches prematurely take their super whistle and all their coaching acumen and they go somewhere else and don’t have the same kind of success,” Venables said. “I love winning and I love to be successful and I don’t think that much of myself to think I can just go anywhere.”

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