Brent Venables

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Phil Connors, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    pretty sure he has been offered several jobs and has passed
     
  2. TC

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    Someone log in with their Coot troll account and correct this misinformation
     
    BudKilmer likes this.
  3. CUtigers86

    CUtigers86 Well-Known Member

    ^ Has a D coordinator for a HC
     
  4. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    I didn’t say “ever.” You brought that in yourself. If he wanted to be a head coach, he could’ve been one already.

    I was responding in the context of whether his sleeping with a booster’s wife/daughter mattered. It doesn’t.
     
    Tiffin likes this.
  5. Tony Perkis

    Tony Perkis Living My Best Life
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    Nope. He's clearly the next Jerry Sandusky.
     
    Where Eagles Dare likes this.
  6. TC

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    We have fun around here
     
  7. Where Eagles Dare

    Where Eagles Dare The Specialist Show On Earth
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    Livid
     
  8. Where Eagles Dare

    Where Eagles Dare The Specialist Show On Earth
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    Only one person ITT not having fun
     
  9. cutig

    cutig My name is Rod, and I like to party
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    It matters because it’s the only job he’s seriously associated with and the only rumor that ever flys around about him. But sure you know better.
     
  10. dblplay1212

    dblplay1212 Well-Known Member
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    Didn't realize you had become a Bama fan. Welcome.
     
  11. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    How on earth do you know what I know? I could be the dude's agent for all that you know.
     
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  12. cutig

    cutig My name is Rod, and I like to party
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    Yup that’s definitely it.
     
    NothingIsOT likes this.
  13. 42yard

    42yard you stay cute
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  14. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    You're a fan of the team he coaches for, so you obviously have superior knowledge about how/why he gets offered jobs when? Get the fuck out of here with that. It's a patently absurd claim that he's not considered for head coaching jobs because of sleeping with a booster's wife/daughter.
     
    Tiffin likes this.
  15. cutig

    cutig My name is Rod, and I like to party
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    I never claimed that. I said that’s the only rumor out there not that it’s why he’s still an assistant. He’s repeatedly said he’s waiting for the right position to open. If there was some huge scandal that has poisoned him from being a HC for decades, it wouldn’t be a secret.
     
  16. Baby Rabbit

    Baby Rabbit Pelican fan
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    Is it though?

    Arky fired Petrino for adultery
    Miss St fired their baseball coach for adultery
    Ole Miss stuck by the most blatant cheater in the SEC until they found out he was involved with escorts
    Charlie Strong couldn't get a SEC HC job because of similar rumors.

    Probably not a big deal in the Midwest/West, but Venables doesn't really have ties there
     
  17. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    I don't know what you're arguing with me about. My point was that there's zero chance that sleeping with a booster's wife/daughter would keep him from getting a job if he wanted one. Fuck.
     
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  18. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    For the first three, there's a difference between firing somebody who is sleeping with a subordinate and/or for using a university cell phone/plane for hookers and somebody who had an affair 20 years ago. As for Strong, that's not why he "couldn't" get a SEC HC job. Either way, he still coached at a top 5 program.

    Regardless, there are infinite examples of guys with minor skeletons who get good jobs because they're good at their job. Venables is so good at his job that schools would overlook simply sleeping with a booster's daughter/wife.
     
    xec and Tiffin like this.
  19. skiedfrillet

    skiedfrillet It's not a lie if you believe it.
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    guys i'm the head of the local brent venables fan club and you're all wrong
     
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  20. GoodForAnother

    GoodForAnother I got a little problem with you not fuckin me
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    :dubioustrump:
     
  21. clemsontyger04

    clemsontyger04 Two offensive coordinators are better than one
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    I just hope he doesnt invest in any bad land deals. I hear coaches start looking around when that happens
     
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  22. TC

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    Too late. Tilly's got him on the hook for half the Swamp. Told him it was a "Grand Strand" property
     
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  23. rickyrubio4life

    rickyrubio4life Straight Cash Homey

    If you don't have a story about how an old family member passed up on buying Grand Strand property back in the day because it was too swampy then you aren't real Palmetto State Fam. I could have been a kyleionaire.
     
  24. Dairy Queen

    Dairy Queen The mentally ill sit perfectly still
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    You are like Arkadin on meth
     
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  25. kslim

    kslim EMAW
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    The reason he isn’t a head coach is because Bill Snyder. Yes he fucked our biggest donors daughter, while she was a student at KSU it’s basically why he didn’t come here when Snyder retired the first time. A lot of young alumni (myself included) have pushed the idea of him taking over but it’s something that will not happen while Snyder has any pull with the university. I mean hell the guy is old stubborn and has definitely put a block on any kind of deal to bring Brent back.

    Also he loves cocaine and that’s for the devil
     
  26. a.tramp

    a.tramp Insubordinate and churlish
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    Well, that shit is nasty. Except for the smell.
     
  27. GoodForAnother

    GoodForAnother I got a little problem with you not fuckin me
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    Leavitt or leave it
     
  28. 42yard

    42yard you stay cute
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    Maybe we just had one letter too many and we'll actually get bert
     
    Killy Me Please likes this.
  29. BP

    BP Bout to Regulate.
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    [​IMG]


    :usasmug:
     
  30. Whiskers McKitty

    Whiskers McKitty Who ate the Cat?!?
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    He could key bump a G with his right nostril. It's cavernous.
     
    southside, Lipp, TC and 1 other person like this.
  31. Biship

    Biship Well-Known Member
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    Yeah I think Bill Snyder hates his guts.

    Look what the snyderman did to John Currie.
     
  32. JohnnyChimpo

    JohnnyChimpo This man, Lenny Pepperidge, AKA Lenny the Pep...
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  33. Tiffin

    Tiffin Florida is a penis.
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    That's a mighty fine coordinator you got there, Clemson. Sure would be a shame if someone finally made him a head coach. A real shame.
     
  34. cutig

    cutig My name is Rod, and I like to party
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    We signed his kid. CFB is fucked for 3 more years
     
  35. Tiffin

    Tiffin Florida is a penis.
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    Life is pain.

    Eat Arby's.
     
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  36. dump

    dump Well-Known Member
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    He doesn’t want to be a HC

    A true Bud Foster patriot
     
  37. clemsontyger04

    clemsontyger04 Two offensive coordinators are better than one
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    And old Tyler is getting a scholarship in the 20 class too.
     
    cutig likes this.
  38. dump

    dump Well-Known Member
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    Plus why would he leave

    he gets elite talent every year and Dabo probably lets him have the defense all by himself
     
    wes tegg likes this.
  39. clemsontyger04

    clemsontyger04 Two offensive coordinators are better than one
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    Yup
     
  40. Aaron Hernandez

    Aaron Hernandez The FSU NYT article —> goo.gl/WwEJaa
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    Um, maybe he’d leave because he didn’t want to be a cuck anymore.
     
  41. billdozer

    billdozer Well-Known Member
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  42. Bankz

    Bankz I'm a sick guy
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    This post didn’t age well
     
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  43. billdozer

    billdozer Well-Known Member
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  44. Saul Shabazz

    Saul Shabazz Rap Game Rex Chapman, Black Man's James Blackman
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    Dudes living the Mickey Andrew's life
     
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  45. billdozer

    billdozer Well-Known Member
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    THE STORY OF BRENT VENABLES
    Larry Williams • TigerIllustrated.com

    What do you know about Brent Venables?

    Like, what do you really know about Brent Venables?

    The surface-level persona is engrossing and enchanting enough.

    The love of Clemson and its surroundings, the ability to grasp just how good he and his family have it at the top of the college football mountain even if his name is not at the top of the organizational chart.

    The all-consuming focus and fire that is evident not just on game days, but also when he is fully immersed in preparation and concentration on a challenging opponent.

    The utter joy he shows after a challenge aced, the pride for and in his players who have given him everything they've had not just physically but mentally.

    The appreciation for the head coach's mandate to luxuriate in the fun that must come with the winning.

    The common sight of him losing himself in the moment so thoroughly that there is a get-back coach charged with keeping him from incurring penalties for venturing off the sidelines.

    He looks and acts the part of a maniac, and since he's at Clemson you love him because he's your maniac.

    A litany of opposing fans are substantially less enthused to see that guy on the opposing sidelines, gesturing wildly and pumping his fists and yelling as meticulous study of an offense's tendencies culminates in the now-common sight of his players seemingly knowing exactly what's coming.

    So the average fan looks at the 48-year-old Thomas Brent Venables and is thoroughly satisfied by the story that has been told thus far, a story of great defenses year after year after year and a story of a man at the top of his profession even if he doesn't occupy the top office in his program.

    ALSO READ: Our FREE extended preview of The Story Of Brent Venables | The latest on 5-star Antoine Sampah | Monday Insider | Additional recruiting nuggets

    Venables appears so consummately fueled by his job that it would be logical to conclude he is defined by his job.

    But there is so much more to him and his life than that.


    [​IMG]

    A younger Brent Venables is shown here as defensive coordinator at the University of Oklahoma in 2008.
    AP
    In October of 2008, Dabo Swinney sat down with Tigerillustrated.com and told his tumultuous, heartbreaking, heartwarming life story.

    Venables recently agreed to open up about his own dysfunctional upbringing, and how he dealt with tragedy that struck when he was well into a successful coaching career.

    Some of the details he is sharing for the first time and aren't yet known to most people, including his own boss.

    Rather than composing our own take on Venables' story, injecting our own voice and interpretations, we opted to get out of the way and let him tell it all himself.

    Here is Part 1 of Brent Venables' life, in his own words:

    I guess we’ll start at the beginning.

    I was born in Homestead, Fla. My biological father, Ron Venables, was in the Air Force. He was a fighter pilot. When I was about 2, he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. My mom really didn’t have anywhere to go, no real options. I was the youngest of three brothers.

    My mom had grown up in a really strong Catholic family. Her siblings all went to college, and her parents were really strict. I guess my mom was the wild child and decided she didn’t want to go the route of her siblings. She just wanted to get married. So she didn’t have anywhere to go after my dad left her.

    So the Air Force sent us to Salina, Kan., where there is an Air Force base. They just kind of dropped us off there. My mother’s parents lived in Lincoln, Neb., which is about four hours from Salina. They bought a house for us, on 703 Marvin Ave.

    I don’t know a lot of the details from that time because I was 3 years old. But she had to figure out what she wanted to do. So she starts picking up odd jobs and whatnot, just for survival money. She was a really, really hard worker. She was the one who taught me work ethic, making the best out of your situation, taking whatever circumstances you have and making them a good thing.

    So it was a struggle growing up, but I really didn’t know it was a struggle. I thought the way we lived was normal. My mom didn’t want to accept the assistance from my grandparents, but she did because she knew that was the only way she could take care of her boys. So they would send her $400 a month. I remember the check was always $400, and my grandparents would always write “No booze and no cigs" on those checks.

    And then my dad would send another $400 a month for child support. There would be a check from the government every month for that. So $800 was our monthly income, plus whatever money my mom made from whatever odd job she was doing.

    My mom would work at whatever she could get ahold of. She would work part-time jobs. She did everything. She would do drywalling and she was on stilts when she did that. She’d be mudding, and I remember many times I’d go over and feel like I was helping her. She did sheetrock and fixed houses. She worked at a Chinchilla farm. She was a secretary. She worked everywhere. She worked at a soda fountain, or what we called a pop shop. She did just a little bit of everything. Painted houses, you name it.

    I had four stepdads growing up. The first one was very abusive, very physical. There was a lot of domestic violence. I don’t remember a whole lot about him other than you just did not want to screw up around him because you knew what was coming if you did.

    We always had animals growing up. That’s the one thing I remember from the time of my first stepdad, Cecil. We always had animals and we always went to parks. But man, you were always on eggshells when Cecil was around. It was a really bad situation, and I felt bad for my mom. She would always try to see the good in everybody, and to try to fix people. That was just her nature. And beyond that, she was just trying to find some stability and support for her family. So she picked the lesser of two evils, and I’m sure that was really hard for her. But it was a really, really bad situation with Cecil. Multiple times the police would come over and arrest him. Just really bad.


    [​IMG]

    Venables is shown here at a news conference in Norman, OK in August of 2011.
    AP
    Then I had another stepdad. His name was Jack. He was pretty steady as far as working and whatnot, but he had a drinking problem and was also prone to domestic abuse. He verbally abused me and my brothers. He was really kind of bi-polar.

    Again, for us this was really just kind of the norm. It was just a process of trying to manage it. I know I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the bad things, the verbal abuse and the alcohol. But I liked not having to worry about paying the bills or getting the electricity turned off and things of that nature.

    I was still really young then. Jack kind of left me alone. He was more abusive to my two older brothers, for whatever reason. I guess I didn’t pose as much of a physical threat to him. And maybe I wasn’t as smart as my brothers and just more naïve. He was into everything, from hunting to fishing. He owned a drywall company, so he brought stability to the household with his income.

    So that went on for six or seven years, and it finally ended with a gun incident at the house. We had a gun go off inside the house. I was asleep at the time, so I don't really have a recollection of what happened. When I woke up, he was gone. One of my brothers took me and showed me a hole in the floor. Maybe he was threatening my mom and pulled the trigger and it went through the floor.

    I remember always begging my mom to get rid of him, but she told me she didn’t know how. It was our house that he lived in, but how do you go about kicking somebody out of your house? For so long she just didn't have the heart to do it, but she finally managed to do it after the gun incident.

    When my mom finally kicked Jack out, he threatened to kill her. She had to go stay in a safe house for a few weeks. Meanwhile, my two brothers and I stayed with friends.

    After that was over, my mom found another guy. His name was Jim. He had a full-time job, but he also had a drinking problem. And also a verbal-abuse problem. So it was pretty much same old, same old. I think at that point my oldest brother Kirk just started to resent everything. He wouldn’t be around as much. He didn’t like anything that was going on, and in his mind mom was choosing Jim over us. But from her point of view, she was lonely and trying to fix people. This was another guy with a lot of problems, but he had a full-time job.

    Even while we were dealing with all that, mom was making sure we had whatever the popular trends were at the time. Whether it was clothes or shoes or doing fun stuff like going to the movies, going on vacations to Nebraska or Colorado, or going camping at the lake, we were always doing something. And I grew up always loving the outdoors, because those were the times when everyone was normal. When we were camping or hunting or fishing, everything seemed fine. So that’s probably why I thought that the dysfunction, the abuse, the alcoholism, going to bed crying and hoping things would be OK when I woke up in the morning, was the norm. I just didn’t know any better.

    We went to church sporadically, a Baptist church. The kids were always wanting to go to a Catholic church because that’s what we were around when we were with our grandparents, aunts and uncles. My mom grew up Catholic, so we were very intrigued by that. We went to a few masses. But we really liked going to the Baptist Sunday school and the buses would come. A different colored bus would come by and pick us boys up. But at the time, we really had no strong understanding of being a Christian, and what faith can mean to your life. So growing up, I was always intimidated by my friends’ families who made that a normal part of their lives just because I didn’t know much about it.


    [​IMG]

    Venables earned $400k a year in 2011, his final season in Norman. He now irons over $2 million a season at Clemson.
    Getty
    I played varsity football my freshman year of high school. I was starting to get some confidence. I was growing. As a freshman I was 6 foot and 190 pounds, so that was pretty big. My older brothers were really, really good football players. Kirk was a senior when I was a freshman. Ken, the middle brother, was a sophomore when I was a freshman. So we all got to play together for a brief period of time. That was really cool.

    Sports were such a big part of our lives growing up. I always played baseball. My mom would always sign us up for soccer. My mom couldn’t be there for most of the practices or games, so that’s when I started relying on the coaches to get me where I needed to be. I had to walk to practice a lot, the ones that were close enough. The practices that were across town, somebody would come by and pick me up.

    The reason I loved sports so much was it was all positive. There was a lot of encouragement. I always had good experiences when it came to athletics when I was growing up. And I was always pretty good at whatever it was. I met a lot of friends that way, and there were a lot of coaches who were really good influences – male figures that would bring out the best in me, just very positive and encouraging. So I always looked at coaches as great role models and people that I really admired and respected. And I thought at that time that coaching was something I’d potentially want to do when I grew up -- at the very least be a youth coach and help out and things like that.

    Holidays brought out a lot of dysfunction at home. That was an occasion for lots of good food, lots of friends, but a lot of drinking. I remember I didn’t like the drinking part. I was always just holding my breath, thinking: “Please don’t crack that first Old Milwaukee can.” Because when it started flowing, it would always just progressively get worse with people passing out and all sorts of other stuff. I knew I didn’t like it. It was embarrassing, and I knew it wasn’t right. I begged my mom not to do it. Sometimes she’d be able to hold off, and other times she’d give in to it. She just couldn’t help herself. There were a lot of nuclear meltdowns over holidays.

    My mom loved to cook, man. My brothers’ friends would always come over. I’d have some buddies come over. She’d always cook enough for the whole neighborhood. So she was an awesome cook. But whenever she was cooking big, she was always drinking big. Most of the time, she wouldn’t eat because she’d pass out before she could ever eat. That was always tough.

    I never once thought about turning my back on her. I always just wanted to help. I tried to manage it. At a certain point you knew it wasn’t normal, but it was our normal. Even with all the dysfunction, there was always a lot of love. I grew up always pulling for my mom and always having great admiration and respect for her. I never resented her, because I just felt like I had some wisdom knowing how hard it was on her to fight that fight. With her only having a high school education, it was hard for her not to try to find someone to rely on.

    In the summer after my freshman year, one of my mom’s friends that I saw somewhere had mentioned to me that Jim hit my mom in front of some other people at a bar the night before. This was a Saturday evening, early evening, 5 or 6 o’clock.

    So I got into my buddy’s car and we drove around until we found where Jim and my mom were, at a bar. I remember thinking that this was a moment that was way overdue. I remember telling myself in the car: “This is going to stop now. I’m big enough and old enough that I’m going to help my mom. I’m going to give her a way out.”

    I went into the bar and asked Jim if he put his hands on my mom. He said he did and asked me, “What are you going to do about it?” So I beat him up in front of all his buddies. And that was pretty much the end of that relationship. My mom got in the car with me and we went home. She was just really quiet.

    So my mom kicked Jim out of the house, and then her last husband was another man named Jim. Really, really good guy. Had a great job. He was a hard-working guy that just made my mom happy. This relationship started my junior year of high school. He was just a very positive, encouraging guy. He drank a little bit, but he wasn’t too abusive, at least not early on.

    So things were going much better for my mom. She was still jumping in and out of jobs. She was a secretary for an insurance office for a good while. Her first car, which she drove for a long time, was a hand-me-down from her dad. It was rusted out everywhere. I was riding a bicycle everywhere until I saved up enough money to buy a moped.

    So much of her work ethic rubbed off on me, watching how she always found a way and always had a positive, can-do attitude around us kids. I had so many part-time jobs back then. I as a busboy at Village Inn. I worked at McDonald’s.

    Probably my favorite job was working for three different grocery stores through those years. I loved the stocking and carrying out groceries just because I could see people. I always had a really positive, outgoing attitude, so I always liked to see people and be outside, carrying their groceries to their car. My grandparents made an arrangement that whatever I saved on my own, they would match it as long as I put it in a savings account. That motivated me so much. I was always working.

    Then I got a job selling newspaper subscriptions for the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. There was a gentleman who worked for the paper and hired a bunch of people my age, and my brothers had started working for him too. So you’d get $6 for every subscription you sold. He’d take you to a neighborhood, and you’d go door to door. You’d have your spiel ready.

    And man, I was so excited to make that first pitch: “Hello, my name is Brent Venables. I’m with the state’s newspaper, the Wichita Eagle-Beacon. How are you doing today?”

    Those first few times, I remember the person in the doorway would say, “Hey, slow down!” If they didn’t slam the door in my face, they’d tell me to calm down and go a little more slowly. But I got the hang of it.

    That was a big time for coupons. People that lived in the world that I knew, you clipped coupons all the time out of the weekend paper. So we claimed to have the most coupons in our weekend paper, $200 worth. And then people started tripling your coupons at the grocery store with discounts and stuff like that. So that was always a popular thing.

    We would not only travel around Salina selling those subscriptions, but we would go to Junction City, Abilene, Clay Center, Hutchinson, Fort Riley outside of Manhattan. Fort Riley was always a hot spot, because that was an Army base and people were always coming in and out of there. Wives and husbands there always wanted a newspaper, and they wanted coupons. This was a newspaper that covered everybody, and we would kill it selling those subscriptions. I was really, really good at it. And I had a few buddies that joined. We called it “The Crew.” I had that job for three or four years from middle school through high school. On a good week, I’d sell between 30 and 40 subscriptions. That was some good money. I’d spend some, but I always saved a lot.

    The skating rink was my fun thing to do other than sports. That’s where I was every Friday and Saturday night in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Then I got to high school and it wasn’t cool anymore. The skating rink was a great place to go. It was safe, and I could be around my buddies and just have a good time. It was a way to compete. I was fast. I saved up money and bought my own skates.

    I was always a social kid. I had a lot of buddies. And there were a lot of really good families who were great for me. I think they probably felt sorry for me when they took me in. But I was always very personable. They’d give me rides and feed me, and I’d stay the night. Let's just say I had a lot of best friends. For me personally, I felt like I had it all and just had a few issues at home that I wasn’t proud of. I was proud of my mom, but I just knew that it wasn’t right. So I didn’t ask too many guys to sleep over at my house.


    [​IMG]

    Venables has been Clemson's defensive coordinator since January of 2012.
    US Presswire
    I was good at football, and it helped to follow my brothers who had left a really strong reputation. And I loved baseball. Man, I loved baseball. We didn’t have a baseball team in high school, though. There was a travel baseball team, but we didn’t have the kind of money to sign up for that. So that’s why I started dedicating my time to football.

    I did do track all through high school, wrestled. I loved music. My mom had some beat-up piano she got at a yard sale. Our garage was such a wreck, but she had a little space in the garage cleared off for that piano. And man, she was so talented. She could play everything by ear. She loved singing. Music was always on in our house. The radio was always sitting in the kitchen on the counter, and it was always on.

    My brothers were always into music, singing. Kirk was first-string all-state on the bass, and he liked to play the drums too. Kirk and Ken were very musically inclined. My mom would also play the guitar. She’d take that with her when we went to the lake, and she’d play it at home. She’d say: “Boys, come sit down and let’s sing some songs.” We’d say, “Aw, come on mom.” But if I could talk to her now and ask her about the music, I think she would tell me that was what kind of helped her get away from all of her own problems. We would have a lot of fun doing that. Just a really great memory.

    Mom loved to go to the Drive In. She loved scary movies. She loved the holidays. All of them were a big deal. She’d make us costumes for Halloween. She didn’t like to buy the costumes at the store. She thought they were cheap and not authentic. So she would always come up with cool, fun things for us to be for Halloween. She would go broke buying us presents for Christmas, making sure that we got everything on our list.

    I remember one year I got some Air Jordans, the first ones that that were red and black. She just found a way. What is it called when a check bounces, a hot check? She’d write those checks and say, “I know this is going to bounce but we’ll figure it out.” She would never say no. I would always feel bad when I was going out with a buddy or something and asking her for $5. She’d be like, “Well can I write a check?” She didn’t ever want us to do without. Man, she wrote a lot of hot checks when we were growing up. She was an awesome mom. Just snake-bit, so to speak. That’s kind of how I’ve always looked at it.

    Going to the grocery store was always kind of hard, just because you have a little bit of pride. I remember going with my mom, because she didn’t want to go alone. I think she thought her kids kind of helped shelter her from the embarrassment. I remember going to get the government cheese every two weeks, a big block of cheese. It was free cheese. So we ate a lot of cheese sandwiches. And I remember using the food stamps. None of us were proud of that, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. So I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for people who don’t have things easy. Because I know what that’s like.
     
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  46. billdozer

    billdozer Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Clemson TigersCarolina Panthers

    Part 2
    Here is Part 2 of Brent Venables' life, in his own words:

    My mom would always preach to us about going to college and chasing our dreams. She just always believed in me and my two brothers. She was never surprised when we did well academically. My brothers and I all did really well early on, especially myself and my oldest brother Kirk. We always had super, super grades.

    My brother Ken veered off course at one point in the middle of high school and started hanging with the wrong crowd. He ended up getting his GED and then went on to the Navy.

    My brother Kirk, man he was so talented. He was probably the most talented of the three of us in whatever sport. Basketball, football, track -- man, he was like a god to me and Ken. Everything just came so easy for him. Just a brilliant student.

    Kirk was kind of mean, though. I remember growing up, he was tough but he was mean. I think that's because early on he felt like he had to be the man of the house, and there were all these male figures coming through the house who didn't love and nurture him and were not positive role models.

    So I just think emotionally he was really affected by all the dysfunction and abuse. I remember as he got older, he didn't want to be around his little brothers. We weren't cool enough or big enough, so he'd be out with his buddies. He had a little wild side to him too, socially.

    Kirk ended up going to a junior college to play football in-state, and then after that he joined the Navy. So he and Ken both ended up in the Navy. Kirk did very well in the Navy. He served for four years as a search-and-rescue swimmer, and he did a lot of growing up during that time. While he was in the Navy he decided he was going to finish up college when he got out. So he ended up going to Kansas State, and he did awesome there. So when I was at Kansas State I was able to be with him for a couple of years. And then after he got his undergraduate degree from Kansas State he went to the University of Colorado and earned his master's degree. He did an amazing job. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Kinesiology. He worked at a few different jobs thereafter, but his last job was at an energy-conservation company called E Source.

    Kirk's full name was Arthur Kirkpatrick Venables. He got the name Arthur from my mom's dad. My grandfather was a major figure in forestry conservation. There were three main forestry-conservation experts in the United States, and my grandfather was one of them. His name was Arthur Ferber. In our eyes, grandfather was always the big stick. He was the man. He was stability, he was wisdom. But he was a grandpa. He was quite old, so he wasn't into the sports and all that kind of stuff. Everybody was kind of afraid of him.

    When Kirk was in the Navy, he started having everyone call him Arthur. It was a combination of a new beginning for him, and also him honoring our grandfather. So after the Navy and into his new job, everybody knew Kirk as Arthur.

    Basically, Kirk's job at E Source was going around to Fortune 500 companies across the country and selling their products and their systems for helping these companies cut emissions and be more energy-efficient, and at the same time save money while saving the environment and all those types of things. So he would travel everywhere from Boston to L.A. to Atlanta, and they would host different individuals from these businesses.

    The routine consisted of a lot of networking and schmoozing, so they would go out to eat and drink and have a good time. That's just how it works in the corporate world and how people sell their products. You sell yourself and show you can relate to the customers, and then you get down to business.

    Kirk was an easy guy to like, especially in social settings. He was a functioning alcoholic. I think there was a lot of resentment with Kirk toward my mom because growing up there was always some sort of drama between him and my mom and whatever stepdad was with us. He would show up to our summer Colorado gatherings and there would always be some blowup about something. It never ended well. It was always so stressful because I was just worried about what was going to happen.

    So when Kirk was working for E Source, he had an episode in Boston. He blacked out and fell through a glass table in a hotel lobby. That's when the people he worked with realized they needed to get him some help. And I guess I was a little naive up to that point. It was only then when I realized drinking was an everyday occurrence for him. He could manage it. He would get up early and work, and then he'd come home and get into the same drinking routine every night.

    Ken got his life straightened out in the Navy, and then he moved to Denver and then later Salt Lake City for eight to 10 years. He was a lobbyist for the Utah Wilderness Coalition. He did that for a long time. And then he worked for the state of Utah for a long time, had a good job and a stable situation.

    Going back to the end of my high school days, I had a lot of good, positive influences at school with my coaches and teachers and whatnot. I ended up going to Garden City Community College on a football scholarship. I came close to walking on at Kansas State out of high school, but I decided to go to Garden City. While I was still in high school, I remember a coach named Bob Stoops showing up. He was at Kansas State under Bill Snyder, and I went there on an official visit. I went to Kansas on an official visit as well. But neither of them offered me a scholarship, just preferred walk-on spots.


    [​IMG]

    Venables turned 48 years old last December.
    AP
    But I remember meeting Bob Stoops for the first time, and man he was just so electric. He just had an amazing presence to him. He was really positive. He was young. He was confident. I just really liked Coach Stoops so much. So even though I went to Garden City, my focus was on getting back to Kansas State and joining Coach Stoops and Coach Snyder and being a part of that turnaround.

    Coming out of Garden City, I had a couple of scholarship offers from Division I-AA schools. My coaches at Garden City were telling me that's what I needed to do, take the money and take advantage of those opportunities.

    But in my mind, I was going to earn a scholarship at Kansas State. I was determined to do that, and my mom was very supportive of me chasing that dream. So I was eventually going to earn a scholarship, and there was no doubt in my mind. But in the meantime, some folks told me about Pell Grants and financial aid that I could qualify for to get some money when I walked on. With that, plus student loans, I was like, "Shoot. I'm going to Manhattan."

    So after a semester of playing for Coach Stoops and Coach Jim Leavitt, my linebackers coach, I went on scholarship. That was a great experience in itself, a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that I proved a lot of people wrong. We went 7-4 that first year, but we also had two wins over I-AA teams so we weren't able to go to a bowl game.

    I just loved the experience at Kansas State, the relationships with the coaches. It just really taught me what it's like to hone in on a goal, a dream. The work ethic and commitment that it took, the leadership, how to handle yourself -- I just had so many positive mentors starting with Coach Stoops, Coach Snyder and Coach Leavitt. Mike Stoops was also on that staff, and Mark Mangino. We just had a lot of really good family men on that staff. Not just really good coaches, but an incredible experience for me to be able to be under so many good men and father figures. Those years were so formative for me in creating a lot of belief in myself.

    So after my football eligibility expired, I had one more semester at Kansas State to finish up school and I really thought I was going to get into politics. I was a political science major, so I was going to go into either politics or sports law of some sort, or just a general-practice lawyer. So I was planning to take the LSAT and was looking into possible law schools to attend, and the coaches asked me if I was interested in being a student assistant for football that last semester. I said absolutely, and so I got a little taste of coaching. I really didn't have a lot of responsibility, but I was at every practice and went to the games. And man, I just thought it was a great experience. Because finishing up school and thinking about life after football -- life without football -- I was afraid.

    You have to understand how important the PAW Journey is nowadays to these kids. We didn't have anything like that then, none of the many resources that can provide kids who are having to confront the reality of life after the cheering stops and they're having to look for jobs.

    I just remember thinking, "Now what?" In reality, all of the great people and the structure and the stability that I had always really wanted and craved were with a football program. And now I had to walk away and figure things out, to figure out what was going to define me from that point. And I really just wasn't ready for that. I wasn't ready to confront the unknown and to go out on my own and start a life that didn't include football.

    So then one day Coach Stoops asked me if I wanted to stay on as a graduate assistant when I was done with school. He laid out a plan whereby I could take some more time figuring out what I wanted to do, and in doing so I could get my master's. So I became a GA and started pursuing my master's in public administration.

    Man, I just loved everything about being a GA on that staff. I loved the strategy. I loved the family. I loved the camaraderie. I loved competing. I loved helping and serving players. I loved creating the same impact on players that coaches had on me when I was playing in high school and college, giving them a positive source of stability and encouragement and motivation and competitiveness.

    I always loved the recruiting part of it. I loved bringing energy to work every single day, and motivating our guys. Also, I still had some buddies on the team.

    Two years after I started, Coach Leavitt was offered the opportunity to start up the football program at South Florida. Coach Leavitt took the job, and he told me that he thought Coach Snyder should hire me as his replacement as the linebackers coach at Kansas State. But he told me: "If he doesn't, I've got a job for you at South Florida." He told me he couldn't pay me, but he'd put me in the dorm and give me a little money for food. I said, "Man, I'm there!" But the job at Kansas State was going to be a much better situation if I could get it. That was far from a certainty, though.

    This was just before our bowl game that year, the Holiday Bowl. The previous year we'd gone to our first bowl game, the Copper Bowl. So we're out in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, and that was Coach Leavitt's last game. Coach Snyder told me then that I was definitely one of the people he was considering for the job.

    This went on for months. I was kind of in limbo as Coach Snyder tried to figure out what he wanted to do. It seemed like a few years, honestly. About every two days, I'd go down to Coach Snyder's office and knock on his door. He'd tell me he had a bunch of applicants and a lot of people he was talking to, and he still hadn't made up his mind. Coach Snyder did things on Coach Snyder time. He probably didn't ask many people what they thought about it. He just told me to be patient.

    Finally, one day he told me I'd gotten the job. But he told me it was on an interim basis. He told me I had one year to prove to him I was ready. He told me to cut the social ties to my friends on the team, that I was a coach now. He told me I was their leader now and told me what that was supposed to look like. He told me he would start paying me in the fall, and this was maybe March when he told me I had the interim linebackers job.

    Despite all those caveats to the job, despite not getting paid for the rest of the spring and summer, I was just elated. I worked all spring ball, spring recruiting, worked all summer, and I was still getting paid as a GA. Then come fall I was on salary, at $33,100 that first year. I was 25 years old.

    What a great experience for me as a young coach. I remember just the thoroughness and the detail and the consistency. Coach Snyder always worked off of a list, and there was never any stone left unturned. I remember just being in awe of how organized he was, and how he thought about things and the depth of the things he thought about. He was always looking at ways to get better, trying to find any way possible to improve, never making excuses.


    [​IMG]

    Venables won the prestigious Broyles Award in 2016.
    Getty
    Around the same time I got the job, Coach Stoops left for Florida to be Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator. So Mike Stoops and I ran the defense after he left. Coach Snyder had hired another coach to replace Coach Stoops. His name was Bob Cope, and had coached under Coach Snyder before but was at Baylor when Snyder brought him back to Manhattan in 1996. Coach Cope was a longtime, legendary coach.

    Late that summer, Coach Cope got brain cancer. I remember that season, the first year of the Big 12, Coach Cope suffering these terrible headaches. I remember going to Coach Snyder and telling him: "Listen, coach. Coach Cope is as tough as they come and he's having these horrible headaches that make him double over to the ground."

    Coach Cope wasn't really doing anything to address it, not going to see anyone, and we're in the middle of our fall camp installation and he was saying some of the craziest things I had never heard him say. He was making calls that we didn't even have in our defense. So he finally went in for some brain scans and they found some huge tumors. It was terrible.

    We coached my first year in 1996 with just three coaches on defense while he was fighting his battle in the hospital. He later died. Man, he was one of the all-time best. I learned so much from him strategy-wise and about the game as a first-year coach prior to all this happening.

    Coach Snyder coached coaches as well as anybody I've ever been around. If you had a weakness as a coach, he could identify it and help you work on it. He was never degrading, always matter-of-fact and positive to a certain degree. But he was relentless about doing all the little things right and demanding your best, and not allowing you to make excuses.

    It was always a very tight-knit family at Kansas State. I remember everybody in that building -- coaches, players, support staff, secretaries, custodians, everybody -- knew the message and was pulling the rope in the same direction. We had our backs against the wall, and it was always an us-against-the-world mentality. Every single day. That's just who we were at Kansas State. Nobody believed in us but us. That was our view. What an awesome environment for me to grow up in as a young coach trying to get his start in the profession -- just very, very thorough and detailed in everything.

    Some people say it's hard working for Coach Snyder, but for me it was easy. I was young and I wasn't married yet. I didn't have a family. He was just very demanding of your time year-round. There was never any downtime. You had two weeks in the summer and that was about it.

    Coach Snyder had notorious hours. Sundays you worked until 1 AM. Monday, you worked until 1 AM. Tuesday and Wednesday, you worked until noon. And then Thursday you'd go home after practice.

    As assistant coaches, you'd be all done with whatever you had to do but nobody wanted to be the first one to leave. Late at night, we'd be trying to figure out if Coach Snyder was still there or not. We'd be poking our heads out of our offices into the hallway looking for him.

    He was notorious, on those two late nights of the week, in walking down the hallway saying "You guys get out of here early." And it's like 12:50 AM. For me it wasn't that big a deal. It was actually kind of funny. But I just didn't know any better as far as family and all that.

    So it was always a grind, and he got more out of less probably better than anyone in the history of the game. I'll always be indebted to him for believing in me and giving me that opportunity. I know that wouldn't have happened without Coach Stoops and Coach Leavitt saying, "We believe in Brent too." I know that was a big part of Coach Snyder's decision to hire me.

    So after that first year, I got a big bump and a run-game coordinator title. Then the next year, same thing with another big bump and additional responsibilities. He believed in me because of I guess what I had done as a player and as a GA. He gave me a ton of responsibility. And I remember just never wanting to let him down, or my players.

    We had some great years there, and some defining moments. We spent so much time just trying to find a way against some of the higher-powered teams in college football during that time. Just finding a way, strategy-wise, to give yourself a chance to get one more point on the board. Because Coach Snyder always made you believe you could do it.

    I remember the advent of the quarterback run game with a pro-style offense under Coach Snyder. That first year, we signed a bunch of junior-college players with some really good high school talent as well.

    In my three years as a GA we went 9-2-1 in 1993, 9-3 in 1994, and 10-2 in 1995. Then in 1996, my first year as linebackers coach, we were 9-3 and went to the Cotton Bowl.

    Also in 1996, I was dating Julie. We had started talking a little bit in 1994. I had met her in 1992 when I was in college and she was a freshman and I was a junior. She was just getting into college then and was just having fun and wasn't interested in dating anybody. But we kept in touch and always knew each other. We had some mutual friends. She had come from the Overland Park area of Kansas City. So in 1994, going into 1995, we started dating. And then in 1996 we became engaged. We got married in 1997. She got her degree in nursing from Kansas State, and she was working at the hospital right across the street from the football stadium. Both of us were working weird hours. She'd get off at midnight and I'd come in a little later.

    We did that for a few years and it was awesome. We loved Manhattan. Our first home was a condo, right on the corner as you're leaving Manhattan. The street name was Little Kitten Avenue. I remember it like it was yesterday.

    In 1997, we were 11-1 and played Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl. They had Donovan McNabb, and we won that one 35-18.


    [​IMG]

    Venables has now been in college coaching for over 25 years.
    US Presswire
    In 1998, we had something like 19 starters coming back. And we knew we had a great team. That was probably one of the two most talented teams I've ever been on as a coach. And this was just a few years after the Kansas State administration considered shutting down the football program.

    We had finally beaten Nebraska, beaten everyone else. We were favored by a couple of touchdowns over Texas A&M going into the Big 12 championship game, and if we won the game we were going to play for the national championship. We were ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll, but Tennessee and UCLA were also undefeated. So we needed some help for sure. This was the first year of the BCS. I remember Miami and UCLA were playing that day, and Miami gave us exactly the help we needed by beating the Bruins.

    The Big 12 championship was in St. Louis, and we were up 17-3 on Texas A&M in the second quarter. That's when the public-address announcer told the crowd that UCLA lost. We were well on our way to playing for the national championship. At Kansas State, a program that had gone 1-27-1 from 1987 to 1989.

    After three quarters, we were up 27-12. But A&M scored 15 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and then we lost 36-33 in double overtime. It was easily the toughest loss I've ever been a part of. Nothing else is even close.

    About five days before that game, Bob Stoops called. He was going to leave his job as Florida's defensive coordinator to be Oklahoma's head coach.
     
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  47. billdozer

    billdozer Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Clemson TigersCarolina Panthers

    Part 3
    What do you know about Brent Venables?

    Like, what do you really know about Brent Venables?

    The surface-level persona is engrossing and enchanting enough.

    The love of Clemson and its surroundings, the ability to grasp just how good he and his family have it at the top of the college football mountain even if his name is not at the top of the organizational chart.

    The all-consuming focus and fire that is evident not just on game days, but also when he is fully immersed in preparation and concentration on a challenging opponent.

    The utter joy he shows after a challenge aced, the pride for and in his players who have given him everything they've had not just physically but mentally.

    The appreciation for the head coach's mandate to luxuriate in the fun that must come with the winning.

    The common sight of him losing himself in the moment so thoroughly that there is a get-back coach charged with keeping him from incurring penalties for venturing off the sidelines.

    He looks and acts the part of a maniac, and since he's at Clemson you love him because he's your maniac.

    A litany of opposing fans are substantially less enthused to see that guy on the opposing sidelines, gesturing wildly and pumping his fists and yelling as meticulous study of an offense's tendencies culminates in the now-common sight of his players seemingly knowing exactly what's coming.

    So the average fan looks at the 48-year-old Thomas Brent Venables and is thoroughly satisfied by the story that has been told thus far, a story of great defenses year after year after year and a story of a man at the top of his profession even if he doesn't occupy the top office in his program.

    Venables appears so consummately fueled by his job that it would be logical to conclude he is defined by his job.

    But there is so much more to him and his life than that.

    In October of 2008, Dabo Swinney sat down with Tigerillustrated.com and told his tumultuous, heartbreaking, heartwarming life story.

    Venables recently agreed to open up about his own dysfunctional upbringing, and how he dealt with tragedy that struck when he was well into a successful coaching career.

    Some of the details he is sharing for the first time and aren't yet known to most people, including his own boss.

    Rather than composing our own take on Venables' story, injecting our own voice and interpretations, we opted to get out of the way and let him tell it all himself.

    Here is Part 3 of Brent Venables' life, in his own words:

    So Bob Stoops had called me less than a week before the 1998 Big 12 championship and said he was going to Oklahoma, and he wanted me and Mike Stoops to go with him.

    I always hated Oklahoma. I mean, I hated them with a passion. Even before I played at Kansas State, I grew up going to games there -- even when they were horrible. So you despised the Sooners, and it was because we were always the little engine that could at Kansas State and Oklahoma was beating up on everybody. In my young life, Oklahoma was one of the benchmarks. It's kind of like Alabama now: You either love them or you hate them. And I hatedOklahoma.


    [​IMG]

    Venables is shown here in Santa Clara (Calif.) in January.

    But obviously it was a very intriguing opportunity when Coach Stoops got that job, just the thought of it. Because at Kansas State, no matter how hard you recruited and how much you won, you were always at a disadvantage.

    We had so much success under Coach Snyder and had taken the program so far, but we still couldn't get in on any of the elite guys in recruiting.

    I remember us beating up on Texas in 1998 in Manhattan. We just stomped them. The score was 48-7, and we totally shut down Ricky Williams. He went on to win the Heisman that year, and against us he ran for 43 yards on 25 carries. That was Mack Brown's first year, and we just stoned them. Ricky got nothing against us, and that's just what we did to people. Other than Nebraska, we shut down just about everyone.

    Texas A&M and R.C. Slocum? We humbled them too. The year before, in 1997, they came to Manhattan ranked No. 14 and averaging more than 440 yards of offense. We held them to 90 that day. Ninety yards in an entire game. We beat them 36-17 and had a bunch of tackles for loss. We got a bunch of those tackles for loss after we came up with a zone blitz out of a Bear front and played some Cover 2 behind it. Man, we just killed them. Their offense ran 37 plays the whole game and had the ball for a little over 18 minutes. That 90 yards was the lowest output over Slocum's entire tenure as head coach.

    So we were really, really good and had accomplished a ton. We really didn't take a back seat to anyone on the field. And I remember how frustrated I was as a young coach that no matter how hard we worked and how much we achieved, we still couldn't get the elite high school guys. We were still having to subsist on JUCO guys.

    No matter what we would say to recruits, no matter the results on the field, we would still lose a guy to Missouri. Or lose a guy to Nebraska. Or lose a guy to Texas. It was just very discouraging that we didn't have a bigger stick, because I had always thought if you win then that puts you in the lead. But it doesn't work that way.

    So Oklahoma was very intriguing for that reason, their ability to attract elite recruits. And then, of course, there was the opportunity to work for one of the few mentors I had in Bob Stoops. He is why I got into coaching.

    So that was a really agonizing decision for me and Julie in our young life. I was offered the opportunity to stay and get a huge raise and the title of associate head coach while being the sole defensive coordinator, all at the young age of 28 years old.

    Mike Stoops and I wanted to do the right thing and stay and coach in our bowl game after that devastating loss to the Aggies in the Big 12 championship. It always bothered me -- and still does to this day -- that Kansas State fans thought we were distracted the week of that game.

    I didn't talk to Bob Stoops one time that whole week. And we played well enough to have leads of 10-0, 17-3 and 27-12. A&M just put some new stuff in and we didn't do a good enough job adjusting. They made some plays, and our offense fumbled with a couple of minutes left on third-and-4. Michael Bishop, who was the Heisman runner-up that year and was just an unbelievable player, was trying to get the first down and lost the ball. We were up 27-19 with 2:26 left, and they end up going down and tying it, getting the two-point conversion and then winning in double overtime.

    That was as devastated as I've ever been as a coach. And had we won, I don't know that I would've gone to Oklahoma. We would have played Tennessee in the national championship, and we had the best team in the country by a long way. It's hard to say that, but it was just one of those nights against Texas A&M. I think we had five turnovers, and we just didn't do a good job adjusting to some of the new wrinkles they showed us.

    So we went to the Alamo Bowl and played Drew Brees and Purdue. One of our receivers, Darnell McDonald, popped off in the opening press conference. He ran his mouth and said, "We're going to some jank bowl to play some jank team." So that's what Purdue heard, and they had a great team. They must have sacked us eight or 10 times. We lost a high-scoring game at the end when our best corner was out with cramps. We rode the train that got us there and played man-to-man on the outside, and Brees threw a perfect pass down the sideline for the game-winner.

    The night before that game, Coach Snyder called me up to his room at the hotel. It was probably 11:30 at night, and he wanted me to come up one more time. He wanted to know if I would stay. He said: "Well Brent Venables, are we ready to put this behind us and move forward and start focusing on our future together?" I said: "Coach, I'm just not quite there yet. I'm still going back and forth." I asked him if we could talk after the game.

    I remember walking out of his room, going to the elevator and then getting off on my floor. And then something just overwhelmed me. I was crying. I was telling myself: "Man, I need help. I don't know what to do."

    Then I looked down at the carpet. It was crimson. I looked at the wallpaper. Crimson. Even the little bench sitting outside the elevator was a crimson color. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I needed a little help, and God winked at me. I went to my room, and Julie was sleeping. She woke up a little bit and asked me how it went. "Do you know what we're doing yet?" she said.

    I told her: "We're going to Oklahoma." That's when I knew we were going to Norman.

    Our first year at Oklahoma was so hard. There were so many things we needed to change, and it started with attitude and work ethic. They were just a model of dysfunction when we got there. A lot of guys had overinflated opinions of themselves. Some guys who were really highly recruited couldn't play. Just a lot of internal issues, trying to teach guys how to win, how to be a team.


    [​IMG]

    Venables has worked for three high profile head coaches in Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney.

    I was coming from a situation at Kansas State that was the exact opposite. We had some unbelievable players on our defense at Kansas State, some unbelievable kids. We didn't have many off-the-field problems at all at Kansas State.

    We had a great family atmosphere there, a brotherhood. And I'd had some great linebackers. One of them, Mark Simoneau, is in the College Football Hall of Fame. All three of them, including Jeff Kelly and Travis Ochs, were first-team All-Big 12 two years in a row. Kelly was a first-team AP All-American. Simoneau was from a small town in Kansas. Kelly was a guy I signed out of junior college and was the Big 12 newcomer of the year in 1997. Then Simoneau was the Big 12 defensive players of the year two years later. Man, those three linebackers were big time and we had an unbelievable defense in 1996, 1997 and 1998. In 1995 we were No. 1 in the country in defense. I mean we were really, really good those four years.

    So I had spent a lot of time investing and developing that at Kansas State, and then we had to start all over at Oklahoma. Leaving Kansas State was incredibly hard, but I just felt like it was something I needed to do. I wasn't ready to be a coordinator yet. I needed to continue to learn and grow. I had a lot of confidence that Coach Stoops was the leader I needed to help me develop in those ways.

    That first year in Norman was so hard that there were many times I'd say to myself: "Man, I want to go back to Kansas State." It was just such a negative atmosphere with those kids.

    But looking back, dealing with that at Oklahoma was a great learning experience for me as a coach. I wasn't at Kanas State when Bill Snyder first got there and started turning around that wreck and changing the culture; I was two years later, and I was on the players' side and not the coaches' side. So I had somewhat of an understanding, but not the depth that I needed. So Oklahoma was my first time trying to turn something around to that degree.

    Oklahoma hadn't gone to a bowl game in five years. Oklahoma. After Barry Switzer left they had gone through Gary Gibbs, then Howard Schnellenberger, then the disaster under John Blake. When we took over in 1999, they hadn't had a winning season since 1993. That's just crazy to think about.

    That first year, we were 7-4 going into the Independence Bowl against Ole Miss. Deuce McAllister was the running back. We were down 21-3 at halftime but we came back and went up 25-24 on a touchdown with 2:17 left. And we're feeling like we're going to win the game.

    McAllister was a great kick returner, and we had been kicking off to him the whole game and stoning him every time. That was just who Coach Stoops was: He wasn't going to back down from any challenge. He was from Youngstown, Ohio, and he just had that Youngstown edge to him: "What did you say to me? Say it one more time." He just had that chip on his shoulder. We called him the Riverboat Gambler, and Bullet Bob. You name it, man, he was ready for a fight at the drop of a hat. And ready for a challenge at the drop of a hat. So we were kicking it right to McAllister. We were almost insulted at that thought that we needed to kick it away from that guy, or anyone.

    So we had kicked it away from him the whole game, and after our go-ahead touchdown we were talking on the sideline and asking ourselves: "Do we bloop it? Do we squib it? What are we going to do?"

    But that's not who we were. We said: "Let's kick it to him." So we kicked it to him, and man he brought that thing back 42 yards. Just past the 50. They got it in field-goal range and they made a 39-yard kick on the last play to beat us 27-25 on New Year's Eve.

    We're on the bus going back to the hotel and we're going over this bridge in Shreveport. All these fireworks are going off everywhere outside, and the bus was really quiet. Coach Stoops looks at me and he says: "You know what, Vinnie? This is going to be good for us. We went 7-5 and then lost this last game. We don't want everybody to feel too good from winning too much too soon. We'll be all right." That was his perspective. And sure enough, the next year we go 13-0.

    That 2000 season was just an unbelievable year that came out of nowhere. We had a group of talented guys, and we had a number of guys that were just misfits. And we got better and better as the year went on. Josh Heupel was the Heisman runner-up, and Chris Weinke and Florida State were unstoppable and had all these high-draft-pick guys. Nobody gave us a chance. I think we were two-touchdown underdogs going into that BCS championship game.

    I think FSU might have crossed the 50 one time that night in the Orange Bowl. We played Cover 2 and stoned them. We had a couple of zone blitzes, we had a zero blitz and Mike Stoops had put together a great game plan. We beat them 13-2. Our guys just played out of their minds. Man, that was just an unbelievable night. Unbelievable.

    That was a great, great run. We had a number of years in there that we played for the national championship. We had some incredible defenses in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005.

    Late in the 2003 season, Mike Stoops got the head job at Arizona. He stayed on for the Big 12 championship, but after that he left and the national championship against LSU was the first game I was by myself calling the defense.

    We went into that Big 12 championship against Kansas State undefeated, and some people were saying we were the best team in the history of college football. We were just killing everybody. The closest game we had was in the second game, at Alabama. We beat them 20-13, but after that our closest margin of victory was 14 points over Colorado. Texas was No. 11 when we played them in the Red River Rivalry, and we beat them 65-13. A few weeks later, we beat No. 14 Oklahoma State 52-9. We beat Texas A&M 77-0.


    [​IMG]

    Venables has coached on three national championship teams (Oklahoma 2000, Clemson 2016, 2018).

    Mike takes the Arizona job in late November, and we still had two weeks to get ready for the Big 12 championship. So he came back and that championship game against Kansas State was his last game.

    That Kansas State team had no business being on the same field as us, but they beat us 35-7. They just outplayed us. We knew going in that we were going to play in the BCS title game regardless. All the computers and all that said we were going to New Orleans win or lose against Kansas State. So we just thought it was going to be easy, and we got smoked. We didn't have an edge, and K-State did. We just got destroyed.

    So that game against Nick Saban and LSU, basically a home game for them, was the first game I ever called by myself. It was hard for Mike to be two places at once, so he decided to move on. We lost that game 21-7, and I think Marcus Spears had a pick-6. We played them tough, and I learned a lot just as a play-caller through that experience. Tough game, because we could have won it. They played 2-man the whole game, and we finally started running the ball in the fourth quarter and drove into their red zone. We had them on their heels, but we just barely overthrew the running back down the seam on a zero blitz. He was wide open and I think it was a fourth-down play. So the game was over after that.

    That loss was hard, and so was the Big 12 championship. But not nearly as hard as what I was about to go through with my mom.

    I'll back up for a moment, back to late in my high school career. After my junior year, she decided she was tired of living that way. She decided she wanted to help people and she wanted a real job. So she went back to college. For three years, she went through nursing school and kept a part-time job. She had a small inheritance from both my grandmother and grandfather passing away, so she could make do financially. She was with the second Jim at that time. So she put herself through college and got a bachelor's degree.

    Man, that moment was so special. Seeing her get her degree easily trumps any national championship or anything else I've been a part of, other than watching my children being born. To go back home and see her walk across that stage at that ceremony, I was just incredibly proud of her. So it was after my freshman year of college when she earned that degree.

    She was a psychiatric nurse after that, and she just absolutely loved her job. Just loved it. She loved helping people. She loved being able to put the name tag on and make it official and help people in so many ways -- the crazy people. My brothers and I would say that it was right where she needed to be, because she had a lot of experience dealing with crazy people, for sure. And now she was getting paid to do it. That was just a super cool part of her life.

    But on the other end of the spectrum, I always worried about something bad happening. I always worried that there was going to be bad news around the corner. When you get older and move away from home, you live in a state of fear because you know the dysfunction is still there a little bit. I just always worried about that phone call.

    Well, I got that call in January of 2005. We were coming off a humiliating loss to Southern Cal in the BCS title game, 55-19 against a truly great Trojans team with Matt Leinart and all those elite players Pete Carroll had recruited.

    My mom called and said she had lung cancer. It was Stage 4, and she told me she had six months to live. At the time, the gravity of it didn't really hit me. I was thinking: "I've got a good job. I've got money. I can help. We can get treatment and knock this thing out." She probably didn't really grasp the full seriousness of it either at the time. I told her: "We've got this."

    At this point, my mom needed me more than ever. For all the encouragement she always gave me, the can-do attitude and the positivity she always projected, now it was my time to provide the same qualities and the same support.

    Just before that, Jim had also been diagnosed with cancer. He had first been diagnosed with lung cancer a couple years before, but he underwent surgery and the doctors thought they had removed it all. But they later found another spot on his brain. So mom had been taking care of him for a couple of months. I didn't know how bad it was, but it was getting progressively worse. When I came home to Salina, I discovered how bad Jim's cancer was. So we decided to put him in a facility where he could get the right kind of care and my mom could start helping herself.

    Coach Stoops told me: "You go do whatever you've got to do. We've got this here." So I left Norman, and for the next few months I was in Salina trying to help my mom. Her siblings came in from Denver to help. Coach Stoops, even when we were trying to pick up the pieces from that loss to Southern Cal, let me skip spring recruiting. That's something that not a lot of head coaches would have allowed me to do.

    Bob Stoops has always been that way. He and his family, they'll give you the shirt off their back. Bob, Mike, Mark. I lived with Mike for over a year, rent-free. They'll do anything for anybody. Their mom Dee lived in Youngstown but was at every game. They have a huge family.; Bob is one of six children. They're unbelievable people. Bob is a guarded guy publicly, much different from Coach Swinney. Coach Swinney is very transparent and open, and Bob is a lot different. But behind the scenes, he's every bit as much of a giver. He and his wife Carol are just such quality, amazing people.

    Once we figured out how bad it was, I looked at my mom and asked her what we were going to do. She said, "What do you think I should do?" We were talking about different treatments and such, and right there the moment just froze. Everything crystallized for me: She needed me to stay there and help her fight.

    At that point, I tell her: "We're going to destroy this thing. We're going to mow right through this." She says, "All right! That's what I wanted to hear!" That was a cool moment, just to see her excitement as a result of the encouragement I was giving her. She was just looking for a reason to believe we could do this, a reason it was possible to beat it. She needed me as a source of strength.

    We decided that we needed mom closer to us in Norman anyway, and so we planned to move her and Jim down. One of the coaches on our staff at Oklahoma ran a full-care facility two blocks from our house in Norman. It was a really nice, brand-new facility.

    So for the spring, everything was focused on getting her and Jim from Salina to Norman. I missed the entire spring recruiting period. I did go back for a few weeks for spring football, and during that time I'd go back and forth. Salina was about three-and-a-half hours from Norman, so it was very manageable. I'd go take her to her appointments. We just spent a lot of good, quality time together during that period.

    So we sold mom's house and moved her down to Norman and she lived with us. Julie being a nurse, she was able to help. And she was just awesome in giving my mom comfort and happiness and everything else. If you've ever been around anyone with that type of cancer that's that far along, they'll have great days and then really bad days. We went through that cycle and all the normal issues that you have. My mom could still get around. She was as tough as nails.

    Just before the 2005 season started, Jim passed away in his full-care facility. He was 70 years old, and he suffered a stroke and died July 21. The hardest thing I've ever had to do was not tell my mom that he was gone, because I didn't want to have her go into a downslide. Because attitude is so important when you're trying to fight through that. We had been bringing him to the house to see her, and taking her over to his facility to visit. But after he passed away we just kind of made up some excuses. Regretfully, we didn't tell her right away. To us, it was for her own good.

    So then the 2005 season started, and I'd have quiet time with my mom every night after getting home from work around 9:30 or 10. She'd be waiting up for me, sitting up in the bed. We'd talk about the day, and she was always asking about my day and the team and what was going on this week and who we were playing, all that. She was around my boys, Jake and Tyler, during that time. Jake was 6 and Tyler was 4. And that was really cool for me and for her, to be a part of their lives and vice-versa.

    Then on a Sunday or a Monday, she had made enchiladas for dinner. That was her favorite dish she would make for us. So she seemed to be doing pretty well. But the cancer was just too far along. It had really been getting worse, but I didn't know it because Julie kept it from me. The cancer had spread to her bones and her brain.

    She passed away the week we played Nebraska in October of 2005. She was 58. That's kind of a sick way to remember something so important by associating it with a game, but it was the Monday night of Nebraska week in the last week of October.

    Julie had told my brothers and my aunts, and they came into town. I thought they were all coming just to see mom. Some of them got there the day before, and then my brother Kirk got there after she had passed away. I think that was really, really hard on him because he couldn't get there in time. She died at 4 AM, and I was at a staff meeting four hours later. I knew my family was there, and I knew I had to keep going and focus on the next thing. I learned that from her.

    For me, that whole experience was just an awesome opportunity. What a gift from God to allow Julie and I and our family to have time together and give her comfort and happiness and laughter and love while she deserved it. In the darkest time of her life, we were there to try to give her hope. Seeing her battle, and being able to help her battle without her wanting anything, gave me great clarity on my life. It refocused my priorities with my faith, my family and my job -- in that order. I recognized what was valuable to me.

    That was really tough, losing both my mom and Jim within three months of each other. It was hard on all of us, and I know it was really hard on Kirk and Ken both. I was on the sideline in Lincoln a few days after losing my mom, but she would have slapped me silly if I didn't keep going. We won that game 31-24. Pouring myself into the season allowed me to protect myself after she passed away. After the season is when it all finally sank in.

    The next summer, in 2006, we had a family reunion in Winter Park, Colo. We rented boats and spread mom's and Jim's ashes on Grand Lake.


    [​IMG]

    Clemson's 2018 defense will be well-represented in this month's NFL Draft, leaving Venables' 2019 defense with several key question marks.

    That next season wasn't easy on the field because our defense slipped some. Early that season, we were ranked 97th on defense and people were saying our defense wasn't the same without Mike Stoops after he left for Arizona.

    About four years later, Kirk had a few more episodes related to his alcoholism. He was at a hospital in Denver with alcohol poisoning, and I was determined to get him to Oklahoma. Some friends of mine were the chief investors in a full-care rehab facility, an awesome facility out in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma.

    It took a one-man intervention by me to get Kirk out of Colorado and into that facility. I flew into Denver and told him: "You're coming with me. I've got your plane ticket, and you're coming." Man, he was so angry. There were some counselors there and they were trying to talk to him. He didn't want to talk to them. He was saying they were crazy people. And then I got there and he was even angrier. He told me: "What are you doing here? I ain't listening to you. You're crazy."

    That was a first for me, taking control of a situation with my oldest brother and telling him what he was going to do. I had always been afraid of him. But this time, man, he listened. He didn't really want to go, but he agreed to go. First he agreed to leave the hospital and come with me to the airport Marriott for the night. And man, I didn't sleep one second that night. So then the next day I got him to agree to get on the plane. I told him he was just going away for three weeks, when in actuality it was going to be three months. He wouldn't even agree to do the three weeks. But once I got him to that facility, I stayed with him for probably two or three hours trying to get everything situated and the paperwork signed.

    So then I had to tell him about the three months. I was afraid to even ask the question, because I was afraid he'd say no way. But he said he would. And then we talked on the phone every day. And then over the first few weeks, there was just this noticeable change in him. I had never had more excitement than at that time with how proud I was of him. He was legitimately trying to step into the ring and fight.

    My sons and I would go out and see him every Saturday. It was about a 90-minute drive to go see him. And man, we had the best time. I got closer to my brother than I had ever been in my life. It was the damndest, coolest thing. My sons got to see him when he was in a really good place mentally, sober, so that was great for them. We'd play games. We'd go running. We competed. We did all kinds of fun stuff. There was just a lot of fun stuff to do. And of course there were a bunch of Oklahoma fans at the facility, so we had a lot of good fellowship and devotional time. Had a lot of great meals together. Just a really great time in our relationship.

    His last day there was graduation, and seeing other people who were going through the same thing was so powerful. You live your life in such a way where you're not exposed to these real-life issues that are going on with other people. It made me realize that we weren't the only family going through this.

    Tigerillustrated.com will release The Story Of Brent Venables Part IV tomorrow.
     
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