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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney responds to Brent Venables-Arkansas report

November 26, 2017

CLEMSON — Brent Venables, the guru Clemson defensive coordinator and perhaps the best assistant coach in all of college football, is on Arkansas’ radar for a head coaching position, according to a report from CBS Sports ′ Barrett Sallee.

The Razorbacks fired coach Bret Bielema immediately after he walked off the field following a 45-42 loss to Missouri on Friday night, which puts them immediately on the market for a new leader.

Venables’ name popping up as a desirable one is nothing new, but as far as Clemson is concerned, there will be no time this week for coaching chatter or outside speculation. Participating in an ACC teleconference Sunday ahead of the conference championship this week, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he had not heard about this particular rumor.

“We are 100 percent focused on Miami. I don’t know anything about that and I never get too worried or focused on any of that stuff,” Swinney said. “There are a million rumors and whatever. Our focus, Brent’s focus is on — I promise you — getting ready for Miami.”

Venables arrived in Clemson in 2012 to take over Swinney’s defense and has consistently produced some of the nation’s top units on a regular basis. For the job he did in 2016, when Clemson went on to win the national championship, Venables was the recipient of the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach. One of his sons, Jake, has verbally committed to play football for the Tigers as a class of 2018 commit and another, Tyler, recently was offered a scholarship from the Tigers.

Back in 2014, Venables told the Post and Courier he thoroughly enjoyed being an assistant.

“I love my job. I love the simplicity of it,” Venables said. “I’m not going to be defined by a title or any kind of stature or pay. I just want to make sure I’m somewhere successful and got a quality family life.”

The CBS report also stated Arkansas is interested in Memphis coach Mike Norvell. Swinney said he always supports his assistant coaches in their future endeavors, but then added again that this week is all about Miami. If the No. 1 Tigers beat No. 7 Miami, Clemson will likely be guaranteed a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“I’ve always had a policy of if guys have opportunities somewhere down the road that they think is good for them, that’s great,” Swinney said. “But nobody’s sitting around worrying about any of that stuff. Everybody’s focused on trying to beat Miami this week. That’s it.”