Getting Defensive: An Introduction to New Coordinator Tom Hayes

8 Aug

Tom Hayes will still coach defensive backs this season, but now he has the added responsibility of coordinating the entire defense. (Photo from K-State Sports Information.)

After last season’s defensive coordinator Chris Cosh took a job offer from South Florida, Kansas State found a replacement from within. Tom Hayes joined the staff in 2011 as the secondary coach, and this season he takes the reigns of the defense as a whole.

While some coordinators like the bird’s-eye view of the press box, Hayes always worked from the sidelines, and he plans to do the same this season for the Wildcats. At the Kansas State football media day on August 3, Hayes attributed this preference to two reasons.

“One, I coach the secondary as well as coordinate defense,” Hayes said. “If something bad’s going to happen to the defense, we’re going to get beat the fastest with that group I coach, so I’ve got to fix the problem right away on the sideline. The other thing I want to be able to do is look in the eyes of our defensive team every time they come off the field and make sure they’ve got the right approach, the right attitude, the right adjustments, all those things. Those are necessary because every series we’ve got to fix something, and I’ve got to make sure that they’re down there doing that and they’re into it.”

Though Kansas State’s pass defense was sometimes identified as a weakness last year, especially against the pass-happy offenses of the Big 12, the secondary over which Hayes presided in 2011 included such successful players as Walter Camp All-American Nigel Malone and All-Big 12 selections David Garrett, Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman. The defense as a whole ranked fifth in the Big 12 and second in interceptions.

“The biggest difference [this year] is I am responsible for a lot more organizational things as well as the oversight of the staff and players, but I have had several of these jobs, so this is nothing new to me,” Hayes said.

Hayes has been coaching for several decades, and as a former coordinator at both Oklahoma and Kansas, where he was also an interim head coach for several games, Hayes is no stranger to head coach Bill Snyder.

“We have played against Tom on previous occasions,” Snyder said. “He has a plethora of experience as a coordinator … He has had the experience on an ongoing basis, which I think is significant, and he certainly demands a respect from his players because of his knowledge of defensive football and of football in general.”

In addition to his time at Oklahoma and Kansas, Hayes has also been the defensive coordinator at Stanford and UCLA. He also has NFL coaching experience, including five years coaching the defensive backs of the Washington Redskins in the 1990s and two years coaching the defensive backs of the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and 2007. While Snyder said the NFL experience is not the most significant part of Hayes’ resume to him because NFL football is different from college football, he said it definitely contributes to his overall prowess as a football coach.

With so many years of coaching under his belt, Hayes said he has learned from many other coaches, and that will help him this season.

“You just have to hope that all of those experiences will guide you through the current position you’re in, and they should,” Hayes said. “I’ve been at a lot of Division I institutions and a few NFL teams. I have had the chance to be around great coaches and great players, and as a result I have learned a lot of football by being around them. I am looking forward to the challenge and I can’t wait to get going.”

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