Clemson DC candidate breakdown: OU's Brent Venables, Randy Shannon

The Clemson Sports Blog

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables (AP Photo)

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables (AP Photo)

Coaching searches often divide fanbases into camps for different coaches, and Clemson, is no different.

When Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables was the reported name, some Tiger fans immediately jumped on the bandwagon, while others were all-in on former Miami coach Randy Shannon, and still others were in favor of the up-and-comer South Alabama defensive coordinator Bill Clark.

Not discounting Clark, but I could break down his stats compared to Shannon and Venables and still not really tell you anything. No matter what, he would come in as an unknown.

So, Venables and Shannon camps – here we go…

Let’s start here – it’d be hard for Clemson to go wrong either way if both want to come to TigerTown. The superlatives are aplenty.

In Shannon’s six seasons as defensive coordinator at Miami, he coached 14 first round NFL draft picks and seven All-Americans, earned the Frank Broyles award for the top assistant in the country and had Hurricanes’ units that finished in the top-10 in total defense nationally five of those six seasons.

Venables has either been co-defensive coordinator or defensive coordinator solely at Oklahoma since 1999 – coaching 12 NFL draft picks and five Big XII players of the year from the position he coaches (linebacker), with the No. 1 total defense in the nation in 2003 and top-15 units in five more seasons in the offensive league that is the Big XII.

Shannon took over the Miami program as head coach in 2007…and the Hurricanes remained solid, but not quite as spectacular on defense.

In 2007, the ‘Canes finished 5-7 with the 33rd spot nationally in total defense (345.92 YPG) and 52nd in scoring defense (26 PPG). In ’08, Miami improved to 7-6 with the 28th-ranked defense (317.46 YPG) and 56th in scoring defense (24.15 PPG).

In 2009, Shannon had his best campaign (9-4) with a top-30 defense (329.62 YPG) – surrendering 22.2 PPG (37th nationally). And in his swan song in Coral Gables, the embattled coach’s defensive unit ranked the best yet during his head coaching career (22nd, 323.31 yards per game), but Shannon was let go after a uninspired effort from his team in a season-finale, home loss to South Florida (23-20 in OT).

Taking a look at strength of schedule, in Shannon’s four years as head coach, Miami faced zero top-25 ACC total offenses, only two top-30 squads and eight top-50 offenses.

Category Shannon (2001-06 as DC, 2007-10 as HC) Venables (1999-Present)
Top-15 total defenses 5 6
Top-10 pass defenses 6 3
Top-10 rush defenses 1 2
Top-10 conf. offenses faced (last 4 seasons) 0 10
Top-25 conf. offenses faced (last 4 seasons) 0 18
Top-50 conf. offenses faced (last 4 seasons) 8 23

The No. 1 problem most folks are having with Venables is the recent dip in total defense for the Sooners in 2011 and 2010, where OU finished 55th this season (376.15 YPG) and 53rd last season (361.86 YPG). Whether a reflection on Big XII offenses or defenses, Oklahoma finished No. 1 in in its league in scoring defense though, allowing 22.1 points per game (Clemson gave up 29.9 PPG, 81st nationally and 10th in the ACC).

In 2008 when Oklahoma finished 12-1, Venables’ defensive unit finished the worst yet under him at 63rd nationally in total defense, but that was after facing a gauntlet of 11 of the top-50 scoring offenses in the nation that season.

Oklahoma recovered the next year to rank 8th in total defense (272.62 YPG), 7th in scoring defense (14.5 PPG) and 6th in sacks per game (2.92).

But it really can’t be understated what Venables is up against in the Big XII.

In the same four-year sample-size as Shannon, he faced not just top-25 offenses, but 10 top-10 offenses, 18 top-25 offenses and 23 top-50 offenses.

The competition level is just barely comparable between ACC and Big XII offenses.

If I’m making the decision and he’s available to come, Venables is the guy – he seems to fit what Dabo Swinney is looking for scheme-wise (4-3), comes from a winning program and a pretty strong pair of coaching trees (Bill Snyder and Bob Stoops).

What will be interesting to watch is how much other schools play a factor in the process – one, Oklahoma trying to keep him for a co-defensive coordinator spot with newly hired Mike Stoops and other currently open jobs, like Orange Bowl opponent West Virginia.

And these are the main two names mentioned, who else has a strong shot at the job farther down the list? Should be an interesting next few days (and weeks?).

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Comments » 4

DerekEvans writes:

Venables would be my guy if I was doing the hiring...

brookesdad729 writes:

I believe that Venables would be okay but for the long haul I think Shannon would be a better hire. He's already had a failed head coaching gig so we wouldn't have to worry about him leaving after a couple of years. With Venables and Morris we would have that issue in a couple of years. Anything has got to be better than what we just had. Geno Smith was throwing from a lounge chair!

porkchop writes:

Which would be a better recruiting source?
Shannon or Venables?

BrandonRink writes:

in response to porkchop:

Which would be a better recruiting source?
Shannon or Venables?

Both have a solid reputation on the recruiting trail - just in different regions. A perceived advantage with Shannon is even more of a foot in the door in South Florida.

But in my opinion, this isn't a recruiting hire - you need to go scheme/coaching ahead of recruiting prowess.

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