Brent Venables, Clemson's defensive coordinator, earned a $2.5 million contract extension per year through 2026 on Wednesday, making him the highest-paid assistant football coach in the country
The Clemson board of trustees' compensation committee approved the extension, which also includes bonuses for finishing in the top five in total defense and making appearances in the College Football Playoff, which the Tigers have done in each of the last six seasons.
With the extension, Venables—who was a reported candidate for the Auburn coaching job during the offseason—adds one year and $100,000 per year to his current contract and puts him at the top of the totem pole in terms of the pay scale for assistant coaches. According to the USA Today Sports salary database, Venables's salary sits above one Power Five head coach—Oregon State's Jonathan Smith—and is tied with Kansas State's Chris Kliegman's.
Venables now earns what two assistants were paid during the 2020 season. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele both earned $2.5 million respectively during the 2020 season. Sarkisian is now the head coach at Texas while Steele was let go when Guz Malzahn was fired from Auburn.
Venables, who replaced Steele at Clemson after the loss to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl, came from Oklahoma and helped turn Clemson in a top defensive unit in the country.
The Tigers led the nation in sacks last season and have finished in the top 12 each year since 2013. Venables has also been a part of three national championship teams—one at Oklahoma and two at Clemson—and has helped Clemson go undefeated (6-0) in ACC Championship games.
Venables's extension is part of an annual sum greater than $13 million that Clemson's athletic department will spend to keep its top three coaches. Tigers offensive coordinator Tony Elliott's $2 million annual deal was announced in February, while head coach Dabo Swinney signed a 10-year extension in April 2019.
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