There are a small handful of names that pop up every time a solid opportunity opens up to lead a quality college football program, and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is annually one of the hottest names on that list.
Rarely do you see a Power Five coordinator with no head coaching experience in the mix for some of the best open Power Five jobs in college football, but Venables has been the exception to that rule for the last several cycles.
Venables shared earlier today that this past year, with attractive openings at places like Auburn and UCF among a host of others, he was closer to taking a head coaching job than he perhaps has ever been before.
What ultimately brought him back to Clemson?
Well David Hale tweeted Venables answer to that question, and it centers around happiness.
"You have to be careful not to screw up happy."
"I'm happy," he added.
A veteran college coach, Venables is a bit of a coaching unicorn. In nearly three decades of coaching, he's been at just three different schools.
He played his college ball at Garden City CC (JC - KS) before moving on to Kansas State in the early 90's and immediately began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bill Snyder before being promoted to linebackers coach for the Wildcats after three seasons.
In 1999 he took the co-defensive coordinator / linebackers job at Oklahoma, and in 2004 he was promoted to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops, where he stayed until 2011.
In 2012 he joined forces with Dabo Swinney at Clemson, helping to dramatically revamp both their defensive identity and their recruiting efforts to where they are now viewed as one of the top college football programs annually. At Clemson with Dabo, Venables has won the FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year Award, as well as the Broyles Award.
Venables has weighed some attractive coaching options over the last several years, and at 50 years old, it will be interesting to see what opportunity ends up being "the one" that he decides is the right fit to leave his happy place working alongside the unique culture Dabo has created for his coaches in Death Valley.