We’re now on Day 3 since Brent Venables’ return from Clemson, and no word yet on whether the Oklahoma (co-) defensive coordinator will leave.
Clearly, this isn’t an easy decision. These are some of the factors he must be weighing:
Why he should leave the Sooners:
Autonomy. At best, Venables is going to be sharing coordinating duties with Mike Stoops. At worst, he’ll be a co-coordinator in name only. At Clemson, Venables will be the guy and the defense will be his and his only.
Perception. Venables is in a tough spot at OU. The perception, fair or not, is there that Venables has been demoted. Consequently, even if the Sooners have the No. 1 defense in college football next season, how much of that credit is he going to get? Mike Stoops will reap the credit of any strides made with the defense. At Clemson, Venables has the chance to turn around a defense that was abysmal. If the Tigers play well defense next season, Venables will get all the credit.
Money. Bob Stoops reportedly is going to try to get Venables more money should he stay. But how much money will Stoops really be able to get? Venables already is the highest paid coordinator on the team, and the second highest paid defensive coordinator in the Big 12 with a salary of $440,000 plus incentives. Clemson, however, is planning to possibly offer a contract double that salary. The Tigers already upped offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ salary to $1.3 million.
Future. If Venables wants to be a head coach someday, going to Clemson might be the right move. Venables’ career could stagnate should he stay in Norman. It’s hard enough for an autonomous defensive coordinator to get a head coaching job in this world of high octane offense, much less one that shares duties with another.
Big 12 offenses. In that Venables won’t have to face them anymore. The Big 12 had six of the nation’s top 15 offenses last season. The ACC had none.
Why he should stay with Oklahoma:
Stability. Sure, Dabo Swinney took the Tigers to the Orange Bowl this season. But he’s not entrenched the way Bob Stoops is. A couple of losing seasons and Swinney would be out the door -- Venables with him. In Norman, Venables would be in no danger of losing his job. Remember, Swinney has fired a coordinator in each of the last two seasons, too. Going to Clemson would be a slight risk.
Comfortableness. There’s something to be said for being content where you are. Venables loves Norman. His family appears to love living in Norman, too. He knows how and where to recruit for his program. The Stoops brothers are two of his best friends in the industry. Venables is still in a very good situation.
Winning. Clemson is probably never going to win at the level OU does. This season, the Tigers won their first conference championship since 1991 and made their first BCS bowl appearance. OU achieves that almost every other year.
Talent. Clemson has had some great players come through its program, notably on the defensive line, the last few seasons. But traditionally the talent disparity between OU and Clemson is significant. That will certainly be the case next season. OU brings back five potential all-conference players in Tony Jefferson, Aaron Colvin, Demontre Hurst, Corey Nelson and Tom Wort. Despite its tremendous success this past season, Clemson had only two defenders receive first- or second-team all-conference consideration.