Tigers tab Oklahoma's Venables to be new defensive coordinator

Clemson’s defense was on the field for a program-record 986 snaps last season, up from 865 plays in 2010.

Richard Shiro

CLEMSON -- Clemson's defensive coordinator search ended Wednesday night when Dabo Swinney told The Post and Courier he had reached an agreement to hire Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

"BV to Clemson. Go Tigers," Swinney wrote in a text message.

Terms and length of the deal were not immediately known. The agreement was also not formally approved by the Board of Trustees as of Wednesday night, with Clemson board chairman David Wilkins telling The Post and Courier he had not yet received a copy of a contract.

Clemson had reportedly offered Venables nearly double his $440,000 salary at Oklahoma. Venables and his wife visited Clemson on Saturday and Sunday.

The agreement ends Clemson's week-long search for Kevin Steele's replacement. Swinney announced Steele would not return to the staff last week after a season in which Clemson's scoring defense fell from 13th in the country in 2010 to 81st this season, a campaign capped by an embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

Venables has been the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma since 2004 but had incentive to leave the program as Sooners coach Bob Stoops hired his brother, Mike, this month to be a co-defensive coordinator at the school.

Venables led Oklahoma to a 55th ranking in total defense this season, 53rd last season and ninth in 2009.

Those rankings are inflated as Oklahoma ranked in the top five in the country each season in total offensive plays. Oklahoma led the Big XII in scoring defense this season, allowing 22.1 points per game.

Swinney said last week 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.