After guiding SMU to bowl eligibility and improving the team's win total for the third straight season in 2006, Head Coach Phil Bennett enters his sixth year as SMU's head coach.
The 2006 season served as a preview of a bright future to SMU fans as the Mustangs posted their highest win total in a decade while featuring a slew of talented young players. SMU student-athletes filled a Conference USA-high six spots on the All-Freshman team and also placed a pair of record-setting first-years on The Sporting News' Freshman All-America squad. Bennett recruits Justin Willis and Emmanuel Sanders each set new school records in various categories and Willis was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year by numerous outlets.
Off the gridiron, Bennett has SMU student-athletes reaching new heights as well. SMU received the American Football Coaches Association's 2006 Academic Achievement Award after the school recorded a 100 percent graduation rate when all members of its freshman class of 2000-2001 earned a degree.
The 2005 season was full of highlights, too, like SMU's first win over a ranked team since 1986, a 3-1 record against Bowl teams, and a three-game win streak to end the season - SMU's longest since 1999. Seven Mustangs were named All-Conference USA and two were tabbed freshman All-Americans as national media outlets have taken notice of SMU. ESPN, CBSSportline, CSTV and FoxSports all sang the praises of SMU and Bennett in 2005.
Bennett became the 15th head coach in SMU football history on Dec. 5, 2001.
Coaching Experience: Entering his sixth season as the SMU head coach... Has upped SMU's win total in each of the last three seasons... Coached SMU to a convincing 21-10 win over No. 22 TCU in the 2005 Iron Skillet game, the Mustangs' first win over a ranked team since 1986... Went 3-1 against Bowl teams in 2005... Has an overall mark of 17-41... Posted a 3-9 record in his first season as he led the Mustangs to three wins in their final five games... First win came over defending conference champion Louisiana Tech 37-34 on Oct. 19, 2002... Has reeled in the program's best recruiting classes since the mid 1980s... The classes were considered among the best in the conference and one of the top 50 nationally... Named the 15th head coach in SMU history on Dec. 5, 2001... Came to SMU after serving three years as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Kansas State... In 2001, he led the Wildcat defense to a No. 3 national ranking, allowing just 262.4 yards per game, as K-State made an Insight.com Bowl appearance... Coached the Wildcat defense to a No. 4 national ranking in total defense and a No. 6 national ranking in pass efficiency defense in 2000... Coached Dyshod Carter and Jerametrius Butler, just the second pair of teammates in K-State history to each record 10 or more career interceptions... Led the Wildcats to a No. 1 national ranking in pass efficiency and a No. 2 national ranking in total defense in 1999... Kansas State also led the nation in turnover margin that year... Nominated as National Assistant Coach of the Year in 1999... Coached the secondary at Oklahoma while serving as co-recruiting coordinator in 1998, helping the Sooners rank sixth in the nation in total defense... Was the defensive coordinator at TCU in 1997, leading the Horned Frogs to their highest national defensive ranking in five years... Coordinated the defense at Texas A&M and in 1995 and 1996... In 1995, the Aggies ranked in the national top 10 in every major defensive category, including third in total defense and scoring defense and second in pass efficiency defense... Named American Football Quarterly Defensive Coordinator of the Year that season... 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... Moved to TCU and coached tight ends and tackles in 1982... Was the defensive coordinator at Iowa State from 1983-86... Was the defensive coordinator at Purdue from 1987-90... Moved to LSU where he began coaching outside linebackers in 1991 before being named assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1992-94... LSU led the SEC in every major defensive category and finished eighth in the nation in total defense in 1994.