5 Best Coaching Hires of the Dabo Swinney Era

In Dabo Swinney's fifteen full seasons as coach, there have been a lot of coaches and analysts who have come into the program. Here are his five best hires.
Brent Venables
Brent Venables / Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Brent Venables

No hire in the Dabo Swinney era can compare to the success of bringing in Brent Venables from Oklahoma in 2012.

The Sooners had some great defenses when Venables shared coordinator duties with Mike Stoops (the head coach’s brother). Mike Stoops got a head coaching job at Arizona. The name convinced a lot of people that he was the reason the Sooner defense had been so good.

The following years in Oklahoma didn’t dissuade anyone of that theory. Venables did well but the Big 12’s reputation for being an offense-only conference made it hard to recruit the best talent. When Stoops became available again (because he was fired), Venables chose to find a new opportunity.

While the Oklahoma defense got even worse under Stoops (who was eventually fired by his brother’s successor), Venables built the Clemson defense piece by piece. Three years later, Venables helped the Tigers get their first College Football Championship berth. In 2016, he helped Clemson get its second national championship. Two years later his defense halted an Alabama offense that had been described as the best of all time.

Even Oklahoma fans who said ‘good riddance!’ as he left Norman in 2011 realized how big of a mistake the Sooners had made and eagerly welcomed him back as the head coach after the 2021 season.