Former Baylor defensive coordinator lands new job

Phil Bennett. (File)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Former Baylor assistant Phil Bennett will be the new defensive coordinator at Arizona State, KWTX learned Wednesday.

He tells KWTX Wednesday he’s thrilled with the opportunity to head to Arizona to coach and be with both of his kids.

Bennett’s son is a graduate assistant at Arizona State.

“(It’s) Just a chance to be with him again,” Bennett said.

“I raised him and my daughter as a single parent after my wife passed away. So now my daughter is moving out there to be a traveling nurse so it’ll be a reunion.”

Bennett’s late wife, Nancy, died of injuries suffered when she was struck by lightning while jogging during a violent thunderstorm in Kansas in 1999.

Bennett came to Baylor in 2011 to work under Art Briles as the team’s defensive coordinator.

He says the move to Arizona State reminds him of the move to Waco.

“When Art hired me he said if we can improve a little bit, something great can happen. We ended up winning 50 something games in five years,” Bennett said.

There’s a possibility that other members of the Baylor football staff could be joining Bennett, though nothing is confirmed yet.

“My son is a graduate assistant there. And I’ve known Todd, the head coach, a long time. They just need a little help on defense and I think I can help them.”

Only two other assistants from Briles' staff have landed new jobs.

Former Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and his family made the move Sunday to Boca Raton, Fla., where he will serve as the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic under Lane Kiffin.

Former Baylor assistant director of football operations in charge of defensive quality control, Casey Horny, has accepted a similar position with the Longhorns at the University of Texas.

Sources say that Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Performance Kaz Kazadi is the only main assistant from Briles’ tenure remaining on the Baylor staff, although his future role is uncertain.

Bennett says that he’s hopeful the Baylor football staff will all land somewhere soon.

“People are on the move in this business and our guys are involved in some job opportunities all over the country.”

About 20 members of the staff, including coaches and support staff, were given official termination notices as part of the transition to a new staff under Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.

KWTX obtained a copy of the letter which says “effective December 29, 2016, to make room for the new staff you will be removed from your current role and placed into a position with no specific duties assigned."

“Baylor will continue to pay your base monthly salary, as outlined in your respective employment contract through May 31, 2017,” the letter says.

KWTX was also told Athletic Director Mack Rhoades provided multiple assistants with letters of thanks for developing student athletes and telling them the school has no information that would keep them from working at Baylor.