ASU football defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will not return for second season

Bennett was hired by former head coach Todd Graham last January

Phil Bennett has decided to leave ASU football after one season as defensive coordinator, according to a statement released to members of the media on Tuesday from head coach Herm Edwards.

“While I would have liked for defensive coordinator Phil Bennett to remain on the coaching staff, I do appreciate the fact that he has chosen not to stay based upon family reasons,” Edwards said while on a recruiting trip. "Family always comes first and right now he needs to turn his attention to that."  

With Bennett leaving, Edwards said he's turned his attention to recruiting and solidifying his coaching staff.

My top priorities right now going forward are to solidify our recruiting class and to assemble a defensive coaching staff," he said. "Both objectives are moving along quite well.”

Bennett told Sun Devil Source that health contributed to his decision and that he would coach the Sun Bowl against North Carolina State on Dec. 29. 

In addition, Bennett informed Sun Devil Source he was not done coaching, and that Edwards gave him an opportunity to return as defensive coordinator next season.

The 62-year-old Bennett was hired by recently fired head coach Todd Graham last January. With Keith Patterson at the helm in 2016, the Sun Devils' defense gave up 521 yards per game (6,246 total yards). Only Texas Tech gave up more yards per game (554). Under Bennett's leadership, ASU surrendered 74 fewer total yards per game (447). In addition, after ASU allowed the most passing yards per game (357.4) in 2016, the Sun Devils gave up 268.1 yards through the air last season, an improvement of 89.3 yards. 

Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson indicated that he wanted both Bennett and offensive coordinator Billy Napier to return at a press conference where he discussed Graham's firing.

Edwards recently announced that Billy Napier and Graham's entire offensive staff would return next season. Napier will also serve as associate head coach.

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