Feb. 4, 2008
PITTSBURGH--Phil Bennett, a 28-year veteran of the college coaching ranks and a former national "Coordinator of the Year" honoree, has been named defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at the University of Pittsburgh, it was announced today by Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt.
Bennett joins 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 University.
"In Phil Bennett we are getting an immensely knowledgeable and talented coach," Wannstedt said. "Phil is not only going to be a major asset for us defensively, but his tremendous experience will benefit our entire program."
"Having known Dave for a long time, I have closely watched the Pitt program and the foundation being built," Bennett said. "I'm incredibly excited to be part of what is happening here and look forward to helping the program continue its climb, both in the Big East and nationally."
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 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 University 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. During his final three seasons in Baton Rouge, he was the Tigers' assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. During the '94 season, LSU led the Southeastern Conference in every major defensive category and finished eighth nationally in total defense. He coached the Tigers' outside linebackers in 1991.
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 a two-year letterman for the Aggies as a defensive lineman.
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