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FB Hires Phil Bennett as Defensive Coordinator

Jan. 7, 2011

Born Dec. 3, 1955
Hometown Marshall, Texas
College Texas A&M, 1978
Family wife: Julie
children: Sam, Maddie, Katie & Megan
Level School, Position
College Texas A&M / defensive end
Year School, Position
1978-81 Texas A&M, defensive ends
1982 Texas Christian, tight ends & tackles
1983-86 Iowa State, defensive coordinator
1987-90 Purdue, defensive coordinator
1991 LSU, outside linebackers
1992-93 LSU, asst. head coach/linebackers
1994 LSU, asst. head coach/def coord.
1995-96 Texas A&M, defensive coordinator
1997 TCU, defensive coord. & secondary
1998 Oklahoma, secondary & co-recruiting
1999-2001 Kansas State, defensive coordinator
2002-2007 SMU, head coach
2008-10 Pittsburgh, defensive coordinator
2011-present Baylor, defensive coordinator
WACO, Texas -- Baylor has selected veteran Phil Bennett as its new defensive coordinator, Bears' head coach Art Briles announced Friday.

Bennett, respected nationwide for his experience and defensive mind, was appointed interim head coach at the University of Pittsburgh after last month's departure of Dave Wannstedt and will coach the Panthers in Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl game in Birmingham against Kentucky before heading to Waco.

"I am extremely honored and excited that Phil is ready to begin his journey and continue ours at Baylor University," Briles said. "He brings a proven track record to Baylor, and enjoys tremendous respect nationally for his work on the defensive side of the ball. But aside from that, Phil is a great man, a great professional and is very loyal to the people and the profession."

A native of Marshall, Texas, Bennett is a 32-year coaching veteran who has served as defensive coordinator at seven schools and was head coach at SMU for six seasons. He has coordinated defenses in the Big East, Big 12, SEC, Big Ten and Big Eight.

"I have tremendous respect for Art Briles and the job he has done, not only at Baylor, but throughout his career," Bennett said. "We became fast friends when we were both in Conference USA (Briles was head coach at the University of Houston, Bennett at SMU; and ironically, both share the same birthday--Dec. 3, 1955) and a bond was built there. I've enjoyed my three years at Pittsburgh, but when Art called and we discussed the opportunity to join his staff, I was very excited.

"This is a great opportunity (at Baylor), and I feel like I can help," he added. "Art loves his family and is loyal to his coaches, and those things go along way with me and show just what kind of man he is."

Pittsburgh, which is 7-5 heading into Saturday's bowl game, ranks ninth nationally in total defense this season under Bennett; 19th against the run and 21st against the pass. Four members of Bennett's defense earned 2010 All-Big East honors, including 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.

Bennett is completing his third season at Pitt, all three teams have played in bowl games (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 Southern Methodist University 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 2000-01.

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 years.

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 (1983-86). 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 full-time 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.

In addition to Bennett's hire, Briles named Brian Norwood as the Bears' associate head coach. Norwood, who served as the Bears' defensive coordinator from 2008 to 2010, will also coach on the defensive side of the ball at Baylor.

"We are deeply indebted to Brian for his leadership on the defensive side of the ball the past three seasons," Briles said. "He has played a key role in helping Baylor reach a plateau it hadn't been in 16 years, and I'm excited about his future as a Baylor Bear."



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