Defensive coordinator Brent Venables became the highest-paid assistant football coach in the country Wednesday when the Clemson board of trustees' compensation committee approved a contract extension that will pay him $2.5 million per year through 2026.
While the new contract adds just one year and $100,000 per year to his existing contract, the move does put Venables officially atop the pay scale for assistants. Last season, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele both earned $2.5 million as well. Sarkisian left to take the head-coaching job at Texas, however, and Steele was let go when Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn was fired.
Ironically, it was Steele whom Venables replaced at Clemson following a disastrous 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl. Venables was hired away from Oklahoma and quickly turned the Tigers' defense into one of the country's top units. Clemson led the nation in sacks last season and has finished in the top 12 every year since 2013.
Venables was reportedly a candidate for the vacant Auburn job this offseason but ultimately chose to remain at Clemson, where his two sons are playing.
Venables' new contact includes bonuses for finishing in the top five in total defense or making the College Football Playoff during the life of the deal. Clemson has been a playoff team in each of the past six seasons.