In his second season as Baylor's defensive coordinator is Phil Bennett,
a 34-year veteran with head coaching experience who has served as DC at
eight schools. In addition to a six-year stint as head coach at SMU,
Bennett has supervised defenses in the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big East and
A native of Marshall, Texas, Bennett joined Art Briles' staff in January
2011 following three seasons as defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh. In his
final game at Pitt (one day after his hire at Baylor was announced),
Bennett led the Panthers as interim head coach to a victory in the 2011
BBVA Compass Bowl - a 27-10 win over Kentucky.
In his first season in Waco, his 2011 defense produced seven All-Big 12
performers, including second-team NT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. The Bears
finished 10-3 and won the 2011 Alamo Bowl en route to a No. 12 final
ranking; during a six-game winning streak to end the season, Bennett's
defense accounted for 19 takeaways.
Pittsburgh finished 8-5 in 2010 and ranked eighth nationally in total
defense under Bennett; 17th against the run and 22nd against the pass.
Four members of Bennett's defense earned 2010 All-Big East honors,
including defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who was selected as the league's
Defensive Player of the Year. It marked the third consecutive year a
Panther was tabbed as the Big East's top defender.
Pitt played in bowl games all three seasons during Bennett's tenure
(2010 BBVA Compass, 2009 Meineke Car Care and 2008 Brut Sun). The
Panthers' defense ranked 23rd nationally in 2009 (319.31 ypg) and 27th
nationally in Bennett's first season in 2008 (317.2 ypg).
In 2009, Pitt led the nation in sacks (3.62 spg, 47 total) and ranked 17th
in rushing defense (106.31 ypg) and 19th in scoring defense (19.77 ppg).
Six members of Pitt's defense were named to the 2009 All-Big East Team,
including the Co-Defensive Players of the Year in defensive end Greg
Romeus and defensive tackle Mick Williams.
Bennett joined the Panthers after serving as head coach at SMU from
2002-07. While rebuilding the program at SMU, Bennett improved the
Mustangs' win total for three consecutive seasons, including his 2006
team that reached bowl eligibility and achieved the program's highest
victory total in a decade. That squad also received the American Football
Coaches Association's (AFCA) 2006 Academic Achievement Award after
SMU earned a 100 percent graduation rate for its freshman class of 2000-
Prior to SMU, Bennett was the defensive coordinator and secondary
coach at Kansas State for three years (1999-2001). During his tenure, the
Wildcats finished among the nation's top five in total defense each
season, including second in 1999 (235.0 ypg), fourth in 2000 (270.54) and
third in 2001 (262.36).
Bennett's secondary units were equally impressive, finishing in the top
10 in pass efficiency defense each year. The 1999 Wildcats led the entire
country in pass efficiency defense with an impressive 65.7 rating. They
also topped the nation in turnover margin (1.55), collecting 21
interceptions and 17 fumbles. Two of his standouts in the secondary,
Dyshod Carter and Jerametrius Butler, became just the second pair of
KSU teammates to record 10 or more career interceptions. Both went on
to play in the NFL.
In 1998, Bennett served as secondary coach and co-recruiting
coordinator at Oklahoma as he helped the Sooners finish sixth nationally
in total defense. In 1997, he was the defensive coordinator at TCU and
helped the Horned Frogs earn their highest defensive rankings in five
Bennett was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M from 1995-96.
American Football Quarterly named him its 1995 "Defensive Coordinator of
the Year" after the Aggies ranked in the nation's top 10 in every major
defensive category, including total defense (third), scoring defense (third)
and pass efficiency defense (second).
From 1991-94, Bennett served at LSU, including his final three seasons
as assistant head coach. In 1994 he was the Tigers' defensive coordinator.
That season, LSU led the Southeastern Conference in every major
defensive category and finished eighth nationally in total defense.
Bennett's positional focus was the outside linebackers his first three
seasons and the secondary his final year in Baton Rouge.
Prior to LSU, Bennett held defensive coordinator posts at Purdue
(1987-90) and Iowa State (1984-86). In 1983 he coached linebackers at
MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas and in 1982 he coached TCU's
tight ends and tackles. Bennett began his coaching career at Texas A&M
as a part-time defensive ends coach from 1979-80 before assuming a fulltime
position in 1981.
Bennett is a 1978 graduate of Texas A&M with a B.S. in education. He
was an All-SWC defensive end for the Aggies, helping them earn
invitations to the Sun, Bluebonnet and Liberty bowls during his career.
He and his wife Julie are the parents of four children, Sam, Maddie, Katie
(Baylor graduate and soccer letterwinner) and Megan.