Jay Thomas comes to Missouri Southern after spending two seasons at Northwestern (La.) State University as the Assistant Head Coach in charge of the defensive line. At Southern, Thomas will have the title of Assistant Head Coach and will be the defensive coordinator. He will coach the defensive line.
This past year, Thomas coached two All-Southland Conference defensive linemen, and in his first year at NSU, his entire starting four were named All-Conference.
Thomas, who guided Nicholls State to the 2005 Southland Conference championship, joined Northwestern State in February 2010. He was head coach at Nicholls for five seasons from 2005-2009, after serving as defensive line coach/defensive coordinator the previous six seasons. As head coach or as a defensive line coach, Thomas worked with 12 different players who earned all-conference accolades along the defensive line.
Thomas had immediate impact as head coach at Nicholls in 2005 following six seasons as the Colonels’ defensive coordinator. After overcoming preseason adversity including disruptions related to Hurricane Katrina, he was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award after leading Nicholls to a 6-4 overall record that included being SLC co-champions. The Colonels reached the FCS playoffs for only the third time in school history and fell 14-12 at eventual semifinalist Furman. In 2007, Thomas pulled off the biggest upset in school history when his Colonels defeated Rice 16-14 to open the season. Rice had a bowl appearance the year prior.
His record as head coach was 27-34, during a time in which hurricanes created major disruptions in three seasons, including damage to facilities, cancellation of games and disjointed practice schedules with the team scattered around south Louisiana for days at a time.
Thomas came to Nicholls State as an assistant coach in 1999 from Southeast Missouri State, where he was defensive line coach from 1993-98. During his time as part of the SEMO program, he directed a defensive line that was part of a nationally ranked defensive unit. He coached 11 All-Ohio Valley Conference selections and he had two defensive linemen selected Players of the Year in the OVC.
Prior to his stint at Southeast Missouri State, Thomas worked at Nicholls and helped build a nationally ranked defense in two of his three seasons.
From 1988-89, Thomas worked as a graduate assistant at LSU, working with the Tigers’ linebackers and defensive line. He also handled scouting of opponents and video exchange and was part of the Tigers’ coaching staff, working with the renowned Pete Jenkins, under Mike Archer as LSU won the 1988 SEC Championship.
A native of Baker, Thomas received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Mississippi in 1988 in athletic administration and coaching. He is the son of Larry Thomas, a 33-year coaching veteran of high school football, including 29 years at Baker High School. He is married to the former Jan Fairbanks, who was a nursing professor at Nicholls, and is the proud father of two daughters, Hannah and Haley.