Swinney gets his guy

CLEMSON - The conversation began with a text message just before midnight last Thursday and ended with a three-hour phone call early Friday morning.

Dabo Swinney initiated their conversation with the 11 p.m. (EST) text. "Not even five seconds later," his phone rang. On the other end was the Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

The two hit it off immediately.

"I was compelled to be here when there was an opening. As fate had it, coach Swinney was right, it was like one of my old college buddies talking on the phone, trying to catch up for three hours. It really did," Venables said. "I go to bed early. I was up well past my bedtime, close to 2 o'clock in the morning. I felt juiced. I was energized. I felt we had been on the phone for 20 minutes."

Venables and his wife, Julie, started their visit to Clemson that Saturday night and stuck around until Sunday.

It was love at first sight.

"Having been at a number of places throughout my career, this is as good as it gets," Venables said.

The 13-year Oklahoma assistant left on Sunday with a feeling he would be back.

"When I left here, I knew this was what I needed to do and what I wanted to do," Venables said. "The last hurdle and obstacle was dealing with the issues back in Norman."

In his gut, Swinney felt it was the right choice, but he needed time.

"I just think that you have to go through a process, do your due diligence. I really needed to talk to couple of other people. All of a sudden, I felt like I needed to speed that process up," he said. "I knew he was in a tough situation out there. I just needed that confirmation that what was in my gut was the right thing to do."

Swinney delivered the offer on Tuesday night.

"That would have been Wednesday," Venables said, when asked about his decision to accept the position.


He was introduced as the Clemson defensive coordinator on Friday.

"Timing is everything in this profession. There couldn't be a better time to be here than right now," Venables said.

Just as Swinney felt a year ago when he hired Chad Morris to coordinate the offense, the move felt right.

"He's a great fit for me. He's a great fit for this staff. He's a great fit for our players. He's a great fit for Clemson, especially at this particular time," Swinney said. "The thing I like about him, he's been a very loyal guy. He's been at two schools. Many opportunities to go be a coach at other places, but he's been very, very loyal. I love that about him."

Venables felt a move to Clemson was the right one to make.

"[Swinney] shares a lot of the same things I do, in regards to values, in regards to building a championship program…he's got a vision I share," he said. "A vision of success, a vision of championships."

And that's exactly what the duo wants to bring to Clemson. More titles.

"The needle, to me, is pointing up," Venables said. "That's very, very evident."

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