The latest on Venables (6 p.m. CT update)
(Update, 6:13 p.m.: Just heard back from Venables, via text. “Working through details…” is what he said. So, there’s that. Take it as you will.)
CAMPUS CORNER — Well, it’s been a strange hour or so in the Brent Venables sweepstakes. First he was going. Then he wasn’t. Now we don’t know, but he probably maybe sort of kind of is. Welcome to the 24-hour news cycle, friends. This could all change by the time I post, but post I will, because it’s my job.
Here’s what I just filed for our website, recapping everything as best I could.
By TRAVIS HANEY
NORMAN – After a dizzying hour of conflicting reports, the question with Brent Venables hasn’t changed: Is he staying at Oklahoma or going to Clemson?
The Sooners veteran defensive coordinator was headed east, according to a report Wednesday afternoon on a South Carolina-based website. Clemson’s Scout website, CUTigers.com, said a contract was being prepared for submission to the university board for final approval.
That report was confirmed and advanced by several news outlets, including ESPN.com – which said he had been hired by Clemson.
Minutes later, though, Venables texted two OU media members saying that the report was inaccurate. He even told a Tulsa World columnist that he was staying, although it was unclear whether Venables was joking.
Soon after that, multiple Clemson beat reporters said the chairman of the board indicated there had been no discussions about Venables’ contract. Some of that from David Wilkins, though, could have been semantics about the board’s reception of the contract. He did not flatly deny Venables’ candidacy.
The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier then said athletic director Terry Don Phillips, formerly of Oklahoma State, indicated Wednesday afternoon that a contract offer to Venables had not yet been made.
That went along with what sources had been telling The Oklahoman on Wednesday. According to those at Clemson, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney still planned to interview one or two more candidates – potentially in person.
The flurry of news activity leaves everyone in virtually the same position as earlier in the day, when it was a coin flip whether Venables would stay or leave.
Venables visited South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday with his wife, Julie, exploring the possibility of joining Dabo Swinney’s staff. Pending that board approval, he is expected to make between $750,000 and $1 million a year. (His most recent contract at OU was for $440,000 a year.)
The 41-year-old Venables returned home Sunday night from the interview in South Carolina. Bob Stoops and school officials have been, to some extent, talking with him about staying on staff since he got back.
Venables has been on OU’s staff since Bob Stoops came to Norman. He was the co-coordinator with Mike Stoops until 2004, when he left to become Arizona’s head coach. Venables was in charge of the defense from then until Friday, when Mike Stoops again returned to share the coordinator tag.
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