"What you see is what you get," Briles said. "He never sugarcoats anything, but if you need a friend or a guy that'll listen to you, he's that person. That's what I respect about him."
Baylor linebackers coach Jim Gush was with Bennett at ISU, K-State and SMU and still finds the man's duality remarkable. Bennett tempers his fire with the right amount of love, striking an always-tricky balance.
"On the field, he's going to cuss you out and jump on you," Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager said. "But off the field, he's calm like nothing happened. He's hilarious. He has that switch he can turn on and off. It's unbelievable how he does it. I've never seen anything like it."
Off the field, Bennett's life couldn't get much better. Sam is an offensive grad assistant at Rice. Maddie is finishing up nursing school in Dallas. And their father unexpectedly found love again. In 2005, he married Julie White, a mother of two and a friend of Nancy who'd lived in their College Station neighborhood.
"I've done two things right," Bennett said. "I raised good kids and I knew how to marry well. Hopefully I coached a little bit along the way."
The coach who never stopped demanding perfection, no matter how imperfect his journey has been, is finally in the perfect place to chase it again.
Bennett believes they can win the big one at Baylor. For all his years in the business and all he's survived, he swears he's never had a bad job. But he's never had an opportunity this good.