Venables update: After midnight
CAMPUS CORNER — Well, it’s over. The temblor that was set off by Mike Stoops‘ return has resulted in Brent Venables‘ departure. Venables texted me about 90 minutes ago to say he had taken the job to be Clemson’s defensive coordinator.
I’d obviously written quite a bit about this, trying to cover all the bases either way. It was a complicated story, lots of moving parts.
Among them … and some thoughts mixed in …
** How would Venables and Mike Stoops again share the defensive coordinator, and specifically the play-calling responsibilities. Both Mike and Bob Stoops were adamant that had not been determined and Venables would be a part of it.
** What was Venables’ interest, still, in one day being a head coach? We know it has existed the past few years, and he did wonder at least about the Southern Miss job. If he went back into a co-DC situation with Mike Stoops, would that have undercut his ability to one day leverage a head job? Impossible to say, but it’s difficult to imagine it helping. If he goes to Clemson and does a bang-up job in 2012, he could have several schools knocking on his door.
** Sometimes it’s just time for a change. In the coaching profession, 13 years is an incredibly long time to stay somewhere — and especially as an assistant or coordinator. Heck, Bob Stoops’ tenure, the length of it, is pretty darned rare these days.
** Was/is Clemson really a better place to be? Despite some success this past year, there still seems to be an air of instability on Dabo Swinney‘s staff. The Tigers lost four of six after an 8-0 start. That was part of the reason there was an opening in the first place (the 70 points surrendered in the bowl didn’t help). There are few staff’s more stable in the country than Bob Stoops’. That has to be considered. Swinney could be in a weird place with a so-so season next year. The Tigers could be great or average. It’s really difficult to know what to expect.
Then again, some of that falls on Venables and how well he can get the defense to play right away – much the same way Chad Morris “saved” the offense in 2011. I’m told Venables has his work cut out, in respects to talent. I responded to that person, a friend, by saying he was going to the right league. The friend agreed. He’ll think the gameplanning is a piece of cake, I’m thinking, even if he doesn’t have the same level of players at the outset.
** Venables is a good guy and will be well liked in his new home — one that’s of course familiar to me. It’s almost like we’ve switched places, in a sense. Wish him and his family all the best. They’re getting a good one there. Will miss talking X’s and O’s with him on Mondays. I feel like I hardly got to know the guy.
The grace he showed Sunday night when a pack of reporters showed up to greet him at the airport told me a lot. He could have reacted any number of ways, but he was as kind with us as he could possibly be. He was also graceful handling the certain barrage of texts that came his way. He didn’t owe me anything, being a new guy, but he responded to me the same as he did the veteran beat guys. I appreciate that. Like I said, wish him well. I think time will bear him out to be a pretty underrated guy as far as this decade-plus of success here. That’s a hunch.
** Where do the Sooners go from here, as far as a linebackers coach? Good question. The names I’ve heard that make sense … Tony Tademy, the linebackers coach at TCU. He’s done an excellent job there as a defensive coach. I know former Miami coach Randy Shannon‘s name has come up, for this and other jobs – I even mentioned his name in the paper – but something about that doesn’t add up, for some reason. I would think there could be stronger candidates.
Dave Sittler at the Tulsa World mentioned Tim Kish, who completed Arizona’s season as the interim after Mike Stoops was fired. He has a strong reputation as a linebackers coach and recruiter, and he obviously knows the system well. That would make sense.
Jim Ross mentioned Jim Leavitt, which is interesting. With the success that he’s having as the linebackers coach for the 49ers, I can’t imagine he’d come back to the college game right now. But you never know, and J.R. is pretty plugged in.
A name people might not know, but should, is Tyrone Nix. He was the first defensive coordinator I covered at South Carolina. I don’t know that he’s suited to be a top-shelf defensive coordinator – he seemed in over his head at Ole Miss, too – but he is a first-rate linebackers coach and a great recruiter. Really identifies well with players, gets a lot out of them.
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