CLEMSON — From Arkansas to Mississippi State, Brent Venables' name has made its way through the SEC rumor-mill as a potential candidate for a head coaching job next season. Tuesday, Clemson's defensive coordinator was asked about those reports, specifically whether he is annoyed or flattered to seemingly always be in demand.
Venables said he only wants to think about No. 7 Miami this week and his No. 1 Clemson team that is trying to beat the Hurricanes for an ACC Championship.
"Well, because y'all bring it up, it's annoying. I don't hear about it otherwise on whatever's out there because I just don't spend any time focused on that and I've got a great job," the 46-year-old said.
"Again, I've said that many, many times and I'm very thankful and grateful for that. We're in a great position, so why would I be worried about what's on the other side of the fence? I've always felt that way — and if people have interest, that's part of it. You either decide to listen or not. Right now, we've got a tremendous opportunity this week playing for a championship and my loyalty is to here and our players."
Venables is no stranger to other schools vying for his services and he added another pair of prestigious accomplishments to his resume in 2016 when Clemson won the national championship and he won the Broyles Award. The Broyles Award is given to the nation's top assistant coach in college football each year. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott is a finalist for it this year.
An assistant coach of 20-plus years, Venables has been vocal in the past about being content as an assistant and has spoken to the potential dangers of vying for something that seems better. CBS reported that he was emerging as a candidate at Arkansas and FootballScoop reported Mississippi State has asked him to interview. The Kansas native has coached in five national championship games and his Clemson teams led the nation in tackles for loss in each of the last four seasons. He currently is making $1.7 million for 2017, up from $1.425 million in 2016.
Also on Tuesday, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was asked about the possibility of his assistants moving up and how he balances that line.
"I don’t worry about it one second," Swinney said. "That’s all God’s plan. I’m not God. I just trust God. I don’t worry about it one second. Zero."
Clemson linebacker Tre Lamar is still day-to-day with a stinger he sustained against Florida State. Lamar did not play at South Carolina. Freshman running back Travis Etienne, who was banged up after the South Carolina game, "is fine" and should be ready to go against Miami, Swinney said. Dexter Lawrence also is expected to be ready to play.
If Clemson beats Miami on Saturday, it will be the third time in program history the Tigers have won the ACC Championship three times in a row. Clemson did it in 1965, 1966 and 1967, then did it again in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Clemson leads the conference with 16 ACC Championships. Florida State is second with 15.
History with Miami
Clemson and Miami are meeting for the 11th time. Miami owns a 6-4 advantage. In 2015, when the Tigers beat Miami, 58-0, on the road, 28 current Clemson players were on that team. Twenty three of those Clemson players have played in the 2015 and 2016 ACC Championship games. Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, though on the team both years, is not one of them.