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Phil Bennett (born December 3, 1955)[1] is an American football coach and former player. He was most recently the defensive coordinator at Arizona State Sun Devils. Prior to this position, he served as the defensive coordinator for the Baylor Bears from 2011-2016, and was interim head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers during their 2011 BBVA Compass Bowl win over Kentucky after serving as defensive coordinator of the Panthers for three seasons. Prior to coaching the Panthers, he served as the head football coach at Southern Methodist University (SMU) from 2002 to 2007. Before his stint at SMU, he served as an assistant coach at seven different colleges.[2]

Phil Bennett
Biographical details
Born (1955-12-03) December 3, 1955 (age 63)
Marshall, Texas
Playing career
1974–1977Texas A&M
Position(s)Defensive end
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1978–1981Texas A&M (DE)
1982TCU (TE/T)
1983MacArthur HS (TX) (LB)
1984–1986Iowa State (DC)
1987–1990Purdue (DC)
1991LSU (OLB)
1992–1993LSU (AHC/LB)
1994LSU (AHC/DC)
1995–1996Texas A&M (DC)
1997TCU (DC/DB)
1998Oklahoma (DB/Co-RC)
1999–2001Kansas State (DC)
2008–2010Pittsburgh (DC)
2010Pittsburgh (interim HC)
2011–2016Baylor (DC)
2017Arizona State (DC)
Head coaching record


Coaching careerEdit

Bennett graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in education in 1978, and was a second-team All-Southwest Conference defensive end as a senior in 1977. He began his coaching career at A&M in 1979 as a part-time defensive ends coach. Since then, he has also held coaching positions at Texas Christian University (1982, 1997), Iowa State University (1983–1986), Purdue (1987–1990), Louisiana State University (1991–1994), a second stint at Texas A&M (1995–1996), the University of Oklahoma (1998) and Kansas State University (1999-2001).

During his first season at Kansas State, in 1999, he was nominated for National Assistant Coach of the Year. During his years as an assistant coach he has coached many stand out players, including Mark Simoneau and Terence Newman.

On October 28, 2007, SMU athletic director Steve Orsini fired Bennett. Orsini notified Bennett that he would be dismissed after the Mustangs' last game on November 24, 2007 against the University of Memphis.[3]

University of Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt named Bennett his defensive coordinator on February 4, 2008.[4] After Wannstedt's resignation in December 2010, he announced on January 3, 2011 that he was declining to coach in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Bennett was promoted to interim head coach of the team and lead the Panthers to a 27–10 victory of Kentucky.[5]

Bennett at Baylor

On January 7, 2011, it was announced that Phil Bennett would join the Baylor Bears as defensive coordinator, replacing Brian Norwood[6] who accepted the position of associate head coach for Baylor.

On May 26, 2016, it was announced that Baylor was firing Art Briles as head coach, and that Bennett was a candidate to serve as interim head coach, but declined the proposition and the Bears hired Jim Grobe to replace the fired Briles.[7]


On August 11, 1999, Bennett's 41-year-old wife, Nancy, was killed by lightning while she was jogging near their home in Manhattan, Kansas.[8][9][10] The story of the Bennetts' relationship and the subsequent death of Nancy was the subject of a 1999 feature article in Sports Illustrated, as well as College Gameday on December 6, 2014.[8] Bennett has a son, Sam, who was engaged to Stephanie Kaufmann, and is believed to have been married in the summer of 2017. He also has a daughter, Maddie, who followed in her mother's footsteps and became a nurse. Bennett remarried a long time friend Julie White Bennett in 2005 and has two stepdaughters; Katie and Megan.[11]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
SMU Mustangs (Western Athletic Conference) (2002–2004)
2002 SMU 3–9 3–5 T–6th
2003 SMU 0–12 0–8 10th
2004 SMU 3–8 3–5 T–6th
SMU Mustangs (Conference USA) (2005–2007)
2005 SMU 5–6 4–4 T–3rd (West)
2006 SMU 6–6 4–4 4th (West)
2007 SMU 1–11 0–8 6th (West)
SMU: 18–51 14–34
Pittsburgh Panthers (Big East Conference) (2010)
2010 Pittsburgh 1–0 W BBVA Compass
Pittsburgh: 1–0
Total: 19–52


  1. ^ New coach Bennett settles in on Hilltop
  2. ^ "Bennett not talking about LSU coaching".
  3. ^ Hairopoulos, Kate (October 28, 2007). "SMU fires football coach Phil Bennett". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved October 28, 2007.
  4. ^ "Phil Bennett Named Defensive Coordinator at Pitt" (Press release). Pitt Athletics. February 6, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
  5. ^ Gorman, Kevin (January 3, 2011). "Wannstedt will not coach Pitt in Compass Bowl". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on January 6, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Phil Bennett to Coach Defense at Baylor".
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Bradley, John Ed (October 25, 1999). "She's Not There". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Bennett's wife struck by lightning". Topeka Capital-Journal. August 12, 1999. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  10. ^ "Wife of KSU coach killed by lightning strike". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. August 29, 1999. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  11. ^ "Coach Phil Bennett bio". University of Pittsburgh. 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2009.