Oklahoma targeting Clemson DC Brent Venables as next head coach

ABC Columbia confirmed Sunday that Clemson Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is now the top candidate to become Oklahoma’s head coach.

The two sides are hoping to reach a deal as soon as Sunday, according to ESPN.

Multiple sources indicated to ABC Columbia that Venables and Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney met to discuss the opening on Sunday, and Venables is expected to accept the offer from Oklahoma.

Venables has been a major part of Clemson’s championship run under Dabo Swinney and has a long history at Oklahoma. He was on the Sooners’ staff from 1999 to 2011, serving as co-defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003 and defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2011.

While at Clemson, Venables was the Broyles Award winner in 2016 as the top assistant coach in college football. He has turned down multiple head-coaching opportunities in recent years to stay at Clemson.

Venables, whose defenses at Clemson have consistently ranked near the top nationally in most statistical categories, is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football. He received a contract extension prior to this season that took him to $2.5 million annually. That’s after turning down the Auburn head-coaching job a few months earlier.

If a deal is reached with Venables at Oklahoma, sources told ESPN that Ole Miss offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby would be his top choice as offensive coordinator. Lebby, a semifinalist for the Broyles Award each of the past two seasons, spent four years as a student assistant at Oklahoma after signing to play there before suffering a career-ending injury.

ESPN contributed to the writing of this article.

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