After graduating from Kansas State in the spring of 1993, Venables spent the next two years as a student assistant and graduate assistant under Bill Snyder. Venables became a full-time assistant, coaching linebackers, in 1996. He held the position until 1998.
His next stop was Oklahoma, where he served as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops through the 2003 season. Venables became defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2004, a position he held until the end last season.
"I was incredibly happy where I was, knew I could have great success. There's incredible comfort in knowing those things," Venables said in last week's interview with The Roy Philpott Show. "But, in order to grow, both professionally and personally, I thought it was a fabulous opportunity."
But it wasn't easy. Far from it, as a matter of fact.
"To take Clemson out of the equation, it was incredibly hard, because of the relationships with coach Stoops, the other coaches, the administration," Venables said. "[I was] very close with the president and the athletic director. The athletic director, our kids kind of grew up in Norman together. He's got two boys the same age, so we did everything together in the out of season. Then, obviously, your players. Recruited a good number of them. They're like your own children. That's always difficult.
|"I felt like Johnny Five-Star Recruit that's also a flake. I kept making
my mind up, got everybody pulling at you wanting to know." |
Venables, who spent 13 years at Oklahoma, wasn't necessarily looking to make a move from Norman. But for him to consider moving to another defensive coordinator position, there had to be a few things working in that school's favor.
Clemson, of course, had all of those variables.
"You can go right down the list," Venables said. "Starting with coach [Dabo] Swinney and the leadership with Terry Don [Phillips]. The foundation that's been already set here."
Before National Signing Day, exactly two weeks after he accepted the job at Clemson, Venables spent several days on the recruiting trail with various assistants the Tigers' coaching staff. He also hit the schools and visited the homes Swinney.
"The No. 1 thing that made if fun is the kind of player we can recruit here and are in on. It was insane…the interest level and the ability of these guys, I had already heard that, it was only reaffirmed to me, having been on the road that last week."
Now, nearly a week after signing day, Venables has begun meeting with members of the defensive coaching staff to get ready for spring practice. And he's starting to feel at home in Clemson.
"I knew what I needed to do, what I wanted to do, what I was excited to do," Venables said. "My heart was telling me what I needed to do. I've been incredibly loyal. To have that voice of reason that says you're not doing anything from a disloyalty standpoint -- it was time."
This story if the first of a two-part series with Venables. Stay tuned to CUTigers.com for more from last week's interview.