To what degree has staff continuity been a big key to Dabo Swinney's success at Clemson?
At plenty of other places, staff continuity might not be a huge deal. Heck, Nick Saban has dealt with a heaping amount of turnover over the years and Alabama seems to be fairly competent these days.
At Clemson, though, it just seems to matter a bit more. And that's because culture is such a big part of this monster that Dabo Swinney has built.
Brent Venables is entering his sixth season here, and his tenure has been a testament to the importance of continuity to the aforementioned culture. His first year here was not exactly a fun one. Partly because his defense wasn't very good, but also because he felt like he was existing in a strange, unfamiliar land after all those years at Oklahoma with coaches who were more like family than colleagues.
But after a while, and some rather serious discussions with Swinney, Venables became more comfortable. This place started to feel like home, and the guys beside him in the coaches' meeting room started to feel like family. And when a guy like Venables starts to feel truly passionate about a place and its people, the benefits on the product are bountiful. He's the gift that keeps on giving.
Other places certainly have their own appeal, but Clemson seems to have something unique going with such a strong emphasis on the person as much as the player. We told subscribers about a year ago that the P.A.W. Journey concept, which focuses on preparing these players for life after football, was going to be a new frontier in the so-called arms race and yet another trend-setting feature of Swinney's program.