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ASU Football: Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will leave Arizona State

It was his first and last year in Tempe.

Arizona State Sun Devils next head coach Herm Edwards announced he would have liked defensive coordintor Phil Bennett to stay at ASU, but he chose to leave instead.

Edwards’s statement was released on Tuesday afternoon.

“While I would have liked for (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. “Family always comes first and right now he needs to turn his attention to that. My top priorities right now going forward are to solidify our recruiting class and to assemble a defensive coaching staff. Both objectives are moving along quite well.”

Bennett, 62, was signed at Arizona State in January of 2016, and will leave the Sun Devils after one season.

His final game coaching ASU will be in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 29.

A week prior to Edwards’s statement, the future Sun Devil coach announced he’d retain his entire full-time offensive coaching staff on Dec. 5. There has yet to be a word on the rest of Arizona State’s defensive personnel.

During Bennett’s tenure in Tempe, the Sun Devils’ defense showed flashes of improvement, holding then-No. 5 Washington to seven points and Utah to 10, but failed to sustain such performances down the stretch.

ASU gave up 31.2 points per game, which was over a touchdown better than last year (39.8) and held opponents to 268.1 passing yards per game, which was a far better result than in 2016, giving up 357.4 passing yards per contest.

However, in losses to USC, UCLA and Texas Tech, the Sun Devils gave up over 40 points. Arizona State ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in total defense, and 107th of 130th teams in the nation, giving up 447 total yards per game.

Bennett came to Arizona State from Baylor where he was the Bears’ defensive coordinator from 2011-16. During his time in Waco, Texas, Bennett led the Bears to a 68-21 record in six seasons.