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Brent Venables has a new contract at Clemson.
The longtime Tigers' defensive coordinator has signed a contract extension through the 2026 season. Venables will make an average of $2.5 million per season with his new contract — a slight raise from the $2.4 million he had been making. The extension was officially approved at a Wednesday meeting of Clemson's board of trustees.
With former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian now the head coach at Texas, Venables is now the highest-paid assistant coach in college football. Clemson also now has two assistants making at least $2 million. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott recently got a raise that pushed his salary to $2 million. Clemson is the only school in the country that has two assistants making over $2 million.
According to USA Today's coaching salary database, Venables' $2.5 million annual salary would have been good enough for a tie at No. 59 among all college football head coaches with Kansas State's Chris Kleiman. That's more money than Oregon State's Jonathan Smith made in 2020 ($2.4 million) and ahead of coaches like former UCF and current Tennessee coach Josh Heupel ($2.4 million) and ex-Boise State and current Auburn coach Bryan Harsin ($1.8 million).
Sixty-five head coaches made more than $2 million in 2020. It's good to be a Clemson assistant.
Will Venables ever leave for a head coaching job?
Venables has been Clemson's defensive coordinator since 2012 as the Tigers have become one of the best programs in college football over the past decade. He's been integral to Clemson's success on defense as the team has won national titles and developed dozens of NFL players.
He's also never been a college head coach and it's an open question if he'll ever be one. Venables has been mentioned frequently during Power Five program job searches, though he hasn't made the move. And with a salary like he's making at Clemson, why would he want to leave?
You can understand why Venables would stay at Clemson as long as Dabo Swinney is the coach. The success that Clemson has sustained under Swinney is a longshot anywhere else. When you're making head coach money as an assistant at a perennial national title contender, there aren't that many head coaching jobs that are very enticing.
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