Clemson reworks Venables contract to $2M for 5 years
By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Clemson has made a second major statement this year about how much it wants to hold onto defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
After upping his salary to $2 million a year in February, the school extended the deal to five seasons through 2022 and added retention bonuses that make the package worth $11.6 million.
"Brent's extremely excited. We're very happy to have him here," Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said.
Venables, 47, has long been considered one of college football's top defensive leaders, helping Oklahoma win a national title in 2000 and doing the same at Clemson in 2016.
He turned the Tigers into one of the country's best defenses since arriving in 2012. They led the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense in 2014, then were 10th, eighth and fourth the past three seasons.
Clemson should maintain its lofty position since three draft eligible defensive linemen in tackle Christian Wilkins and ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant all chose to return for another season this fall.
The school's compensation committee of the board of trustees approved the deal Thursday - the second time in five months Clemson has enhanced his contract.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Venables is among the best at what he does and deserves all he gets. "He's earned his status per the market, and just really happy for him," Swinney said at ACC media day in Charlotte, North Carolina.
While Venables' compensation will remain the same, he will earn retention bonuses of $200,000 in 2018 and 2019 and of $400,000 per year each of the last three seasons should he stay.
His contract includes no buyout if he leaves for a head coaching job. Venables would owe Clemson 25 percent of the total remaining on the deal if he takes another assistants' job.
In recent seasons, Venables name has come up in head coaching searches across the country. So far, he's resisted the urge to leave.
"You never say never, but man, it doesn't get much better, if at all, than what we have" at Clemson, Venables said in December before Clemson's 24-6 College Football Playoff loss to Alabama. "Like I said, I'm thankful for what I have and I just have a very good perspective on what we have. There are thousands of guys that would love just the opportunity to be a very small part of this program, so it's a great situation."
He might have some additional incentive to stay since son Jake begins as a scholarship linebacker with the Tigers this fall.
Venables still ranks behind LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda in yearly salary. Aranda is the game's highest-paid assistant with average compensation of $2.5 million a season.
Venables won the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the game two years ago. He's also known for his fiery, sideline antics. His facial contortions at times make it look like he'll burst a blood vessel and the team employs a staffer - "get back" coach - to ensure Venables doesn't wander onto the field.
Venables brings that spirit to practice at times, too, turning into quarterback "Jimmy Greenbeans," a nickname for himself, when he runs the scout team.
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Updated July 19, 2018