Venables interviews at Clemson
BY GUERIN EMIG & JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writers
Monday, January 16, 2012
1/16/12 at 4:57 AM
BETHANY - University of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables was back on Oklahoma soil Sunday night after a weekend checking into the job at Clemson.
Venables had no comment other than to deny a report from earlier in the day that he had accepted the job.
Venables and his wife flew on a private aircraft from Clemson to Oklahoma. They landed at Wiley Post Airport in Bethany, an Oklahoma City suburb, just after 9:45 p.m.
Venables also said he didn't know the timetable for making a decision or how long the process might take. He also declined to confirm or deny whether he had been offered the Tigers' defensive coordinator job.
After traveling Friday from Oklahoma City to Florida with new OU aide Mike Stoops on a recruiting trip, Venables, 41, spent the rest of the weekend at the South Carolina school meeting with head coach Dabo Swinney, touring the facilities and even meeting recruits.
Sunday afternoon, a report posted on the website TheClemsonInsider.com, citing multiple unnamed sources "close to the situation," indicated that Swinney "got his man" and that the hiring was confirmed and would be formally announced later in the week.
However, sources tell the Tulsa World that Swinney wants to interview former Miami (Fla.) head coach Randy Shannon and maybe others before deciding.
In his 13 seasons as an OU assistant, Venables has frequently sought head coaching jobs at other schools (he was a strong finalist for Clemson before athletic director Terry Don Phillips hired Swinney) but he hasn't actively pursued any defensive coordinator jobs until now.
However, Venables' future has been uncertain ever since Bob Stoops brought back his brother, Mike Stoops, to help run the Sooners' defense.
Mike Stoops' return after eight years as head coach at Arizona had been rumored for weeks, but he was formally introduced on Friday, the same day Bob Stoops said he sent Venables and Mike Stoops out together on a recruiting trip.
Bob Stoops did not return messages seeking comment. Sources tell the Tulsa World that Bob and Mike Stoops have been trying to get Venables to stay, which could include significant financial incentives.
TheClemsonInsider.com reported that Stoops had tried to get Venables a raise to $750,000, although other reports indicated Stoops was seeking to boost Venables to around $600,000. TheClemsonInsider.com reported that Clemson had already tendered a financial package that was more than Stoops' efforts, believed to be in the $800,000 range.
Venables made $440,000 in Norman last season, plus incentive bonuses.
Swinney last month got a huge raise for first-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris (a former University of Tulsa assistant) from $450,000 to $1.3 million.
Venables also apparently met several Clemson recruits on their official visits over the weekend.
"I feel like he's going to be the guy," safety Ronald Geohaghan, a Clemson verbal commitment, told Rivals Network website TigerIllustrated.com on Sunday. "I think that's who is going to be our defensive coordinator. He seems cool and down to earth. He takes his job seriously and loves his team, loves his linebackers."
"He's a nice guy," Clemson recruit Shaq Lawson told TigersIllustrated.com. "Dabo told me has four guys he's looking at for that position. I met one of them from Oklahoma. I introduced myself. He said I'm a big guy and asked what position I play and I told him defensive end."
John E. Hoover 918-581-8384