March 21, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Blaine Bennett, who spent the last five seasons as quarterbacks coach at Purdue, has been named assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Michigan State, fourth-year Spartan head coach John L. Smith announced Tuesday, March 21. Bennett, an 18-year coaching veteran, replaces Jim McElwain, who resigned March 2 to become quarterbacks coach for the National Football League's Oakland Raiders. It marks Bennett's second stint as an assistant coach under Smith; his first came as wide receivers coach at Idaho in 1991.
Coach Smith also announced Tuesday that linebackers coach Mike Cox has assumed the additional duties of recruiting coordinator.
The 41-year-old Bennett helped Purdue to a combined record of 34-27 (.557), including four-straight bowl appearances from 2001-04. In addition to his responsibilities as quarterbacks coach, he served as the recruiting coordinator for head coach Joe Tiller. At Purdue, his recruiting areas included northeast and southern Ohio, Pennsylvania, southern Indiana, Kentucky and Dallas-Fort Worth.
"In any profession, your preference always is to hire someone that you know, and Blaine Bennett has been a friend for a long time," Coach Smith said. "Most importantly, I know his work ethic. He comes from a football family; his father was a legendary high school coach in eastern Washington.
"Blaine has certainly paid his dues, coaching at virtually every level of the college game. He's been in programs where he did almost all of the work by himself. Blaine brings a wealth of knowledge to the staff because he has both playing and coaching experience in the spread offense. He has a lot of ideas, and I expect him to play a vital role in game planning.
"Blaine hasn't coached wide receivers recently, but he's done the job in the past. He'll do a great job. He'll be very demanding of his players, but they'll be treated fairly."
"I value John L. Smith's friendship and when the opportunity came to work with him again, I jumped at the chance," Bennett said. "Professionally, this is the next step I need to take if I want have the opportunity to be a head coach again.
"John L. is respected nationally for what he's done with the spread offense. I'm excited about working with a talented coaching staff. Obviously, everyone in the Big Ten is quite familiar with the job Dave Baldwin has done as the offensive coordinator, posting incredible numbers.
"I know that Michigan State returns a talented receiving corps, so I'm looking forward to getting on the practice field. It's also exciting to think about what this offense can accomplish this season with a senior triggerman like Drew Stanton running the show."
In 2004, the Boilermakers led the Big Ten in passing offense (321.2 yards per game) and scoring offense (31.8 points per game) while finishing second in total offense (446.5 ypg.). In addition, Purdue ranked among the NCAA leaders in those three categories: No. 4 in passing offense, No. 13 in total offense and No. 20 in scoring offense.
In 2002, Purdue led the league and ranked seventh in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 452.2 ypg.
During his tenure in West Lafayette, Ind., Bennett tutored three-year starter Kyle Orton, who finished his career ranked second in Purdue history in total offense (9,653 yards) and third in passing yards (9,337) and passing touchdowns (63). Orton ranks fourth in Big Ten history in passing yards and total offense. As a senior, he completed 61 percent of his throws (236-389) for 3,090 yards and 31 TDs. In 2004, Orton also ranked among the NCAA's Top 10 in total offense (No. 8 at 291.1 ypg.) and passing efficiency (No. 10 with a 151.1 rating). Orton, who was selected by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft, started 15 games as a rookie, passing for 1,869 yards and nine TDs.
"Blaine has worked in the Big Ten for the past five years, so he understands what it takes to win in this league, especially from a recruiting standpoint," Smith said. "He knows the personnel needs to compete in this conference."
Prior to his appointment at Purdue, Bennett compiled a 27-32 record (.458) in six years as head coach at Western Oregon (1995-2000). In 2000, he posted a 6-5 record as the Wolves completed the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II status. In 1997, Bennett earned Columbia Football Association Coach of the Year honors after leading WOU to a 7-3 overall record, including the conference championship, a trip to the NAIA playoffs and a No. 12 national ranking.
During his stint as head coach in Monmouth, Ore., Bennett coached four first-team All-Americans: linebacker Louis Taylor (1997), punter Chris Bentley (1999), defensive back Corey Sutton (1999) and offensive lineman Brian Crawford (2000). He also produced five 2,000-yard passers, including Erik Davis who threw for a school-record 2,628 yards in 1999. Western Oregon also averaged 33.8 points per game in 1999 - its highest scoring average in 13 years. In 1996, Brian Traeger set the school record for total offense with 2,866 yards.
Bennett previously spent three years as an assistant coach at Western Oregon (1992-94) under Randy Wegner. He coached the wide receivers his first two years before taking over the duties as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.
Prior to working for Coach Smith at Idaho in 1991, Bennett spent the 1990 season as quarterbacks/wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator at Chico State. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Mike Price at Washington State (1988-89), where he played an important role in the recruitment of 14-year NFL veteran Drew Bledsoe (quarterback/Dallas Cowboys).
A native of Walla Walla, Wash., Bennett began his collegiate career as a quarterback for Dennis Erickson at Idaho (1983-85), where he lettered on the Vandals' 1985 Big Sky Conference championship team that finished 9-3. He then became a two-year starter at quarterback for his father "Shorty" at Whitworth College (1986-87) in Spokane, Wash. In 1986, Bennett ranked third in the NAIA in passing and set the CFA single-game record for completions with 43 against Puget Sound.
Bennett received his bachelor's degree in secondary education and math from Whitworth College in 1987. He earned a master's degree in physical education from Washington State in 1990.
Bennett and his wife Melissa have three children: Blaine John, Brianne and Matthew.