Big 12: Jon McGraw

Q&A: New Baylor DC Phil Bennett, Part II

January, 12, 2011
Phil Bennett spent Saturday as Pittsburgh's interim coach, where he coached the Panthers to a 27-10 win over Kentucky. He's now Baylor's new defensive coordinator, and took some time for on Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association Convention to discuss how and why he made his move, as well as Baylor's future.

Here's Part I from earlier today, in case you missed it.

Do you anticipate making any staff changes defensively?

Yeah, there will be some staff changes. It'll probably be announced on Thursday. It's never that the coaches are not good coaches. These guys are good guys. It's just, I've been doing this and I've always had people that know my tactics and are familiar with what I want, and it's always a transition in coaching. It's unfortunate, but it happens. I've been on both sides of it.

I know you only got to see them that once, but what do you see in Baylor's defense?

You know, it would be unfair for me to make an assessment. I know they were a good-looking team, and they didn't play to the level that they wanted to. I just know this: I've been in this business a long time, and I'm confident that I can help get this thing to the level that it needs to be. I think, obviously, it starts with recruiting. Let's not kid ourselves: We all coach players who can run and hit, and I'm a guy that, my defenses are always built around speed. I don't worry as much about size. We're going to try to get some guys on the field that can cover ground and create positive matchups and be sound. If you ever watched us at Pittsburgh, we had a lot of injuries, devastating injuries, and I think we were still a top-10 defense. We were one of the few defenses that was in the top 25 in every category. It was done with some guys that initially we didn't think would be playing.

What do fans need to know about your defensive philosophy, outside of emphasizing speed?

I'm a matchup guy. I'm aggressive, I like to dictate things. People ask if we're a 4-3 team, well, we're multiple. We'll have three- and four-man fronts. You'll see a three-man package, a four-man package. One of the reasons I think I've had success is I have a philosophy: That's stop the run and make offenses predictable. But I've always built my packages around the personnel that I have. I want to see what we got. When I was at Kansas State, I had five NFL defensive backs. I could do some things very few people could do. People asked me, "Can you do what you did at Kansas State?" I'm not sure I've got Terence Newman, Marques Hagans and Jon McGraw. I don't know if I have that. It's all about ... that's why I think Texas high school coaches do such a good job. Year in and year out, their personnel changes and they evolve to what they can do to win.

What will it take for Baylor to become a team that wins big and wins consistently?

Without question, prime recruiting. Getting better players and coaching ... let's face it, coaching them. I mean, they're pretty good on offense. [Head coach] Art's [Briles] got 'em going. With [quarterback] Robert Griffin and the things they did on offense, for us to take the next step, I've got to get the defense ready to play. And I expect to do that.

KSU's all-decade team

January, 20, 2010
Kansas State was a dominant North division power early in the decade, earning title-game berths in 2000 and 2003. The Wildcats had three teams that finished among the top 15 teams nationally in the first four seasons of the decade.

That success vanished later in the decade, but Bill Snyder returned to help turn around the program in 2009.

Here are my choices for the top Kansas State players of the last decade.


QB: Ell Roberson

RB: Darren Sproles

RB: Daniel Thomas

WR: Quincy Morgan

WR: Jordy Nelson

TE: Jeron Mastrud

OL: Ryan Lilja

OL: Nick Stringer

OL: Jeromey Clary

OL: Andy Eby

C: Randall Cummings


DL: Tank Reese

DL: Ian Campbell

DL: Monty Beisel

DL: Mario Fatafehi

LB: Ben Leber

LB: Terry Pierce

LB: Josh Buhl

DB: Jerametrius Butler

DB: Terence Newman

DB: Jon McGraw

DB: Dyshod Carter

P Tim Reyer

K Jamie Rheem

KR Brandon Banks

Offensive player of the decade: RB Darren Sproles. The key player on the Wildcats’ 2003 Big 12 title team rushed for a school-record 4,979 yards during his career, scoring 45 rushing touchdowns and notching three 1,000-yard seasons. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2003 after rushing for a school-record 1,986 yards to spark the Wildcats' championship season.

Defensive player of the decade: CB Terence Newman. Finished as the most decorated defensive player in Kansas State history, earning All-America honors and the Big 12’s defensive player of the year in 2002. In that season, Newman won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and was a finalist for the Nagurski Award.

Coach of the decade: Bill Snyder. Even a three-season sabbatical couldn’t diminish Snyder’s accomplishments for Kansas State. His 2003 team earned the school’s only Big 12 football championship, punctuating a run of four-straight bowl appearances to start the decade. After returning, he nearly took the team to another bowl game in his first season back in 2009, pushing the Wildcats into the Big 12 North title hunt until its final game of the season.

Moment of the decade: Kansas State notched a 35-7 victory over Oklahoma to earn the 2003 Big 12 title. The Wildcats overcame an early-season three-game losing streak to finish with a seven-game winning streak capped by the title-game upset over the No. 1 Sooners. Darren Sproles rushed for 235 yards and Ell Roberson threw four touchdowns in the wild upset -- the last time a North team has won the Big 12 championship game.