phil bennett baylor

After spending the past 6 seasons with the Baylor Bears as defensive coordinator, Phil Bennett, who was not retained by new head coach Matt Rhule, is heading west to join Arizona State in the same role.

Bennett has almost 40 years of college coaching experience. He had previous stops at Iowa State, Purdue, LSU, TCU, Texas A&M, Kansas State and Pitt.

After the firing of Art Briles, it was reported that Bennett was a candidate to be the interim head coach, but he reportedly did not have any interest. 

Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is desperate to overhaul a defense that has been terrible in recent seasons.

The Sun Devils finished 127th in total defense in 2016 after allowing an average of 521.7 yards per game, including an FBS-worst 357.4 passing yards per game. To put in perspective how bad that passing defense was for Arizona State, it is the second-worst mark recorded since the NCAA began tracking the stat, only the Cal Bears’ 2014 defense allowed more passing yards per game.

Despite Baylor being known for its offense under Art Briles, Bennett did a great job building the defense. Even this past season, in which Baylor lost 6 straight games, the Bears had the 2nd best passing defense in the Big 12 and the number 1 pass efficiency defense.

Last season Baylor was 3rd in total defense, 3rd in rushing defense, and 4th in passing defense.

In 2014, when the Bears finished tied for first place in the Big 12, the Bears ranked 3rd in rushing defense and 4th in total defense.

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