CHARLOTTE — For years, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has turned down the opportunity to serve as a head coach elsewhere to stay at Clemson. The Tigers' assistant coach likes where he is and likes what he does.
Clemson is intent on retaining the elite defensive guru and keeping him happy, too, which is why on Thursday morning the university's Board of Trustees approved an updated contract for Venables that will keep him with the program through the next five years.
Venables will still make the $2 million a year he was set to make under the terms of his old contract. That much won't change. But what is changing is his contract now extends through five years instead of three and Clemson has added retention bonuses.
For staying put with Clemson after the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the university will pay Venables an additional $200,000 each year for his loyalty. For staying put after the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons, he will earn an additional $400,000 each time. His grand total over the next five years is set to deliver him $11.6 million, and if he were to decide to leave Clemson for a head coaching gig he would owe the university nothing in terms of a buyout.
Venables came to Clemson by way of Oklahoma in 2012 and by 2014 had the best defense in the country in terms of total defense, pass efficiency defense, first downs allowed, third-down conversion percentage defense and tackles for loss.
His 2017 group was second in the nation in scoring defense and fourth in total defense and his 2018 defense already has massive expectations given the returning defensive line unit of Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence.
"Really happy for Brent and his family. He has just done a phenomenal job. I think he's the best at what he does. He's so passionate about his job. He's passionate about the players he coaches, and he's passionate about Clemson," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It just gives him the longevity and a little bit more security. The salary didn't change a whole lot, but it just kind of gave him some long-term kind of supplemental income down the road, and more time, term, and in the coaching business, time is very, very valuable. He's earned his status per the market, and just really happy for him."
Also on Thursday, the board finally approved a new contract for men's basketball coach Brad Brownell — a process that took months longer than expected.
Brownell, who led Clemson to a Sweet 16 berth in 2017-18, has agreed to a six-year, $15-million contract through 2024. His last contract renewed him through 2021, meaning Clemson has now given him three more years to continue to build the basketball program after the Tigers established themselves on the national scene a season ago.
Brownell will make $2.1 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20, followed by $2.2 million for 2020-21 and 2021-22, then $2.3 million for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
“We have a tremendous amount of momentum and excitement in our basketball program and that is a testament to Brad’s leadership,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement. “This new agreement demonstrates to Brad our continued strong commitment and support to him, his assistant coaches and to our basketball program.”