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Brent Venables must consider what's beyond the ambience of Clemson

The Blue Ridge Mountains might be an attractive backdrop, but recent turnover inside the coaches' offices can be unsettling.
BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: January 16, 2012

/articleid/3640885/1/pictures/1612688">Photo - Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables talks with Oklahoma's Joseph Ibiloye (5) and Travis Lewis (28) during the college football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables talks with Oklahoma's Joseph Ibiloye (5) and Travis Lewis (28) during the college football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Norman, Okla. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Dabo Swinney made good on the somewhat surprising boost, winning the division — something Bowden never did — in his first full season. Since winning against the Gamecocks as an interim, though, the Tigers have been clocked by Steve Spurrier's team by an aggregate score of 97-37. It's the first time South Carolina has won three in a row in the series since 1968-70.

That's worth mentioning, because it's created some instability in the atmosphere in the Upstate region of the state, even though the Tigers won the ACC title and advanced in 2011 to a BCS game.

That, too, was a complicating problem. West Virginia scored 70 and routed the Tigers in the Orange Bowl.

That signaled the end of Kevin Steele's stay as defensive coordinator and opened the door for Venables.

Swinney has now fired an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in successive seasons, furthering some of the tumult even as the program appeared in some ways to be on the rise.

Additionally, Swinney has had hits and misses when it comes to public relations.

His “all in” mantra became a rallying cry during the first part of his tenure — but then Auburn's Gene Chizik took it and used it on the way to that school's national title run.

His displays of emotion, sometimes immediately after games, are refreshing to fans and his players.

But sometimes Swinney appears to teeter when it comes to control. Last week, he lashed out at a TV reporter when he asked about Clemson's toughness, given its four losses after an 8-0 start. He also recently blasted South Carolina, and specifically Spurrier, for something Spurrier purportedly said. He then refused to apologize once he learned Spurrier didn't say it.

Swinney was also criticized for letting a CMT dating reality show cast, featuring a former reserve quarterback, join the pregame tradition of the team's walk through the parking lots to the stadium. Swinney was later featured on the show.

Bob Stoops and Swinney are about as polar as it gets, in terms of pedigrees and personalities. Stoops, as most everyone knows, is from a family of coaches. Not just his generation, with consideration to his three brothers, but also his dad and uncle. It's in their blood.

Swinney's path twisted and turned. He went from Alabama, as a player and assistant, to real estate to Clemson. It's led some to wonder if he's long for the job — or profession.

A variety of pros and cons on both sides, Venables will soon choose.


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