Nationally known as one of college football's finest defensive coaches,Phil Bennett is inhis third season at Pitt.
The three-decade coaching veteran came to Pittsburgh in 2008 and has put his own imprint on the Panthers' defense over the last two years.
In 2009, Pitt led the entire country in sacks (3.62 sacks/game, 47 total). The Panthers also boasted impressive national ratings in rushing defense (17th, 106.31 yards/games), scoring defense (19th, 19.77 points/game) and total defense (23rd, 319.31 yards/game).
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. It was the first time in Big East history that two teammates shared the league's defensive MVP honor.
Bennett joined the Panthers after serving as head coach at Southern Methodist University from 2002-07. Prior to SMU, he oversaw some of the country's top defensive units while at such schools as Texas A&M, Kansas State and Louisiana State.
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% 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 yards/game), 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 margin/game), 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 Texas Christian 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-Southwest Conference defensive end for the Aggies, helping them earn invitations to the Sun, Bluebonnet and Liberty bowls during his career.
Hometown: Marshall, Texas
Alma Mater: Texas A&M, '78
Family: Bennett's wife's name is Julie. In addition to his son Sam (21) and daughter Maddie (18), he has two stepchildren, Katie (21) and Megan (18).
Years/Position: 1979-81, defensive ends.
Years/Position: 1982, tight ends & tackles.
Years/Position: 1983-86, defensive coordinator.
Years/Position: 1987-90, defensive coordinator.
Years/Position: 1991, outside linebackers; 1992-93, assistant head coach & outside linebackers; 1994, assistant head coach, defensive coordinator & secondary.
Years/Position: 1995-96, defensive coordinator.
Years/Position: 1997, defensive coordinator & secondary.
Years/Position: 1998, secondary & co-recruiting coordinator.
Years/Position: 1999-2001, defensive coordinator & secondary.
Years/Position: 2002-07, head coach.
Years/Position: 2008-present, defensive coordinator.
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