Sooners coach at top of list for Clemson coordinator
CLEMSON -- Before former football defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and offensive coordinator Chad Morris were officially hired at Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney took them each to a Tigers basketball game as a sort of unofficial welcome.
Swinney attended Clemson basketball's loss to Duke on Sunday night, but with him were family members, not a future defensive coordinator. As of Sunday night, Clemson was still searching for a replacement for Steele, who will not return to the staff this year.
Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables visited Clemson this weekend but returned to Oklahoma on Sunday. Swinney said he has a list of four candidates and Venables is the first candidate he reportedly made contact with.
According to the Tulsa World, the position is Venables' to accept or decline. And at least one Clemson commitment believes Venables will become Clemson's next defensive coordinator, according to Tigerillustrated.com.
Venables has been the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma since 2004, but he might have incentive to leave the program as Sooners coach Bob Stoops has hired his brother, Mike, to be a co-defensive coordinator. Venables led Oklahoma to a 55th national ranking in total defense this season, 53rd last season, and ninth in 2009.
Clemson fell from 19th in total defense in 2010 to 71st this season.
Swinney said he is seeking a coordinator who has success defending spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks. Venables has seen a number of such offenses coaching in the Big 12.
Other published reports indicate Swinney might have interest in speaking with South Alabama defensive coordinator Bill Clark and former Miami head coach Randy Shannon.
Clemson announced Steele would not return as its defensive coordinator on Thursday.
Steele made $675,000 last season. Venables made $440,000 last year with the Sooners.