Venables speaks out in first interview since accepting job as Clemson DC

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Photos: IconSMI
Photos: IconSMI

New defensive coordinator Brent Venables said early Thursday that when it came to make a decision on whether to stay at Oklahoma or take the job offered at Clemson, it didn’t come to money – he just went with his gut.

In his first interview since accepting the position at Clemson, Venables told KREF SportsTalk 1400 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Venables said the timing was right to make the move and the pull of Clemson was too much to ignore.

"I’ve got an incredible opportunity. It was a really difficult decision,” Venables said. “There are pros and cons and pluses and minuses. You have people and relationships that are pulling you. It’s just kind of part of life. I just felt deep down that this was the right thing for me to do at the right time in my life. I am incredibly happy. I was happy at Oklahoma and thought that next year we had the opportunity to have a really, really good football team and a great future. The side that looked into staying here- I have a fabulous relationship with Mike Stoops and I thought together we are better and we could really rekindle the old magic. I was really looking forward to that. The pull of Clemson from a timing standpoint-I thought this was my time.”

He said he will miss the relationships he built as a Sooner.

”Obviously you have the same mixed feelings that you have,” he said. “It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity, but to look in the rearview mirror and leave behind the relationships and the attachment to the University of Oklahoma, the fans, the staff the administrations, the relationship with the players and coaches- it’s a sad day. You never really think about it until you have to face it.

”At Oklahoma, it was time to make a move. I’ve got a lot of friends in the business especially in the SEC that have always talked kindly of Clemson. A couple of years ago I looked at the idea of possibly going there when they had an opening. I did some research, but everybody is ready to recruit players. It’s in a recruiting hot bed with great players. It’s in a beautiful part of the country. I think they’ve got a young team that’s very talented and a group of coaches that really know what they’re doing.”

Venables said he also like the idea of working with Swinney and what this move could mean for his career.

”A young coach in Coach Swinney that has a magnetic personality that is very infectious, high energy,” he said. “He’s a very genuine and sincere man, father, and coach. I was just really attracted to that. Just kind of what they’ve got going there. Again, I’m always a ‘be, here, now’ kind of guy and worry about the job that you have here now. We have the kind of success that we all want to have. This could give me the opportunity to be a head coach one day.”

Venables said that Stoops’ decision to bring back his brother, Mike, to join the defensive staff at Oklahoma had nothing to do with his decision.

”I was really happy,” Venables said of the move. “When we went through some of the scenarios, that was the first one that I was in support of and suggested. We know each other. We’ve got great respect. We talk on a weekly basis and have for the last eight years. He gave me the shirt off his back to get in the coaching profession. I lived with him for a year. We’ve got a very deep, long history and relationship together both professionally and personally.

”I’ve got great, great respect for him as a coach and as a friend. It was very comforting. The easy and safe thing for me to do was to stay at Oklahoma. Contrary to the media, if I had stayed, Mike and everybody else wanted to put me in charge. At the end of the day, it’s a collective decision-making process.”

He said the Sooners also said they would match whatever salary Clemson offered.

”I really felt they moved mountains to change some philosophical approach on how they pay you, a multi-year opportunity with virtually the same money that Clemson is going to pay,” he said. “At the end of the day, it really came down to just really feeling like it was time for me to go pursue a really unique opportunity that I didn’t know if it would come up again. [Oklahoma] came close to matching the years and dollar figure. I am very humbled at their actions and what they were willing to do for me and my family to keep me in Norman. Believe me, it was a really gut-wrenching process for me.”

He said he has spent some sleepless nights worrying over the decision.

”It’s been really emotional because you have to look at it from these are some life-changing decisions and affects a lot of people,” he said. “You don’t want to leave these relationships behind and although the friendships won’t ever go away, the idea changes. Turning your world upside down is pretty scary. You can’t get to third if you don’t take your foot off first. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights and never have a problem sleeping- I usually pass out. It is easy for me to sleep.

“I have not been able to. I have a lot of great support. A lot people say that it’s a great problem to have and I actually thought it was a nightmare. Just very emotional. I’m a people person and relationships matter to me. I’m a loyal person. A lot of traveling and sleepless nights and phone calls. All the while I’m recruiting for Oklahoma because I have to plan that that’s where I want to be. At the end of the day, if I’m going to be there, I want a loaded gun. Until things were final and I had some clarity and peace of mind, things needed to go on as though things were going to go on.”

Venables ended the interview by saying he had no problem wearing Clemson’s trademark orange.

”I’ve heard that that’s the case [orange being the school color]. They also have purple. I think I’ll wear it just fine.”

Listen to the interview here:

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