Tom Hayes, a 32-year coaching veteran with previous coordinator experience at three BCS institutions, enters his fourth season as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator in 2015 and his fifth year overall at Kansas State. Hayes was instrumental in the Wildcats’ resurgence on defense in 2011, while he directed a defense that helped the Wildcats produce a Big 12 Championship in 2012 and five-straight bowl berths.
A University of Iowa graduate with extensive Big Eight and Big 12 coaching ties, Hayes completed his 26th year of coaching experience at the collegiate level in 2014 and participated in his 17th career bowl game when the Wildcats earned a spot in the 2015 Alamo Bowl.
Focusing his positional work on defensive backs, Hayes has taught a distinct ballhawking mindset as the Wildcats have combined for 68 interceptions over the last four years, the second most of any Big 12 team during that time.
The ballhawking trend continued in 2014 as the Wildcats picked off 15 passes to rank 23rd nationally and second in the Big 12. Additionally, K-State extended its streak to four seasons with at least one interception-return touchdown when Danzel McDaniel returned a pick five yards for a score at Oklahoma.
The 2014 Wildcat defense also ranked second in the conference in scoring defense and third in both total and red zone defense. Hayes tutored hybrid defensive back Randall Evans to First Team All-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches, McDaniel and safety Dante Barnett were named to the second team. In all, six Wildcat defenders pulled in All-Big 12 accolades.
The defense was a major reason for K-State’s historic in-season turnaround in 2013 when the Wildcats went from 2-4 to an eight-win team. The defense surrendered only 20.1 points per game in the final seven contests, six of which were victories, and over that seven-game stretch, Hayes’ unit intercepted 13 passes and totaled 17 on the year to rank 23rd nationally. The Wildcats were efficient with their interceptions as well as they set the school record for return yards (401) and ranked fifth in school history with three returns for touchdowns.
Individually, Hayes helped guide four defenders to All-Big 12 honors, including Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Ryan Mueller and Ty Zimmerman, who became the first four-year all-conference player in school history. The safety also earned numerous All-America honors, was an honorable mention pick for the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award, a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and a candidate for the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy. Thanks to Hayes’ coaching, Zimmerman left K-State third in career interceptions, second in career interception-return yards and fourth in career interception-return touchdowns.
In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2012, Hayes directed the Wildcats to the top mark in the Big 12 in scoring defense as Kansas State yielded only 22.1 points per game – a six-point improvement from the year before – thanks to a stout rush defense that placed second in the league by yielding only 128.0 rushing yards per game. The Wildcats also pulled in 18 interceptions for a second-straight year to tie for 10th in school history, while Kansas State’s plus-19 mark in turnover differential ranked third nationally.
Hayes helped tutor a pair of All-Americans in linebacker Arthur Brown and Zimmerman, while Brown was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches and Meshak Williams picked up Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. The Wildcat defenders totaled 11 All-Big 12 selections under Hayes’ guidance.
Tutoring the K-State secondary and serving as the pass game coordinator in 2011, Hayes helped Nigel Malone become an instant playmaker at cornerback as the junior was named a Walter Camp All-American after leading the Big 12 with seven interceptions. David Garrett, Tysyn Hartman and Zimmerman all earned All-Big 12 honors in 2011 from their positions in the defensive backfield, while the Wildcat defense overall ranked fifth in the Big 12 in total defense, second in interceptions (18) and second in turnover margin (+12) in 2011.
Prior to arriving at K-State, Hayes spent the 2010 season on Bob Toledo’s staff at Tulane where he coached the defensive secondary and tutored First Team All-Conference USA cornerback Phillip Davis. Davis, who became Tulane’s first all-conference first team selection on defense since 2005, ranked eighth nationally in 2010 and tops in Conference USA with 15 passes defended.
Hayes also served on the New Orleans Saints staff as a defensive backs coach for two seasons in 2006 and 2007. He molded a group of young players and veterans into key contributors in New Orleans as the Saints possessed the NFC’s top-ranked pass defense in 2006.
In New Orleans, the Saints gave up just 178.4 passing yards per game in 2006, leading the conference and ranking third in the NFL. The Saints held eight different offenses to under 160 yards passing that season, including two under 100 yards.
During his career, Hayes has served as defensive coordinator at Power 5 institutions Stanford, UCLA, Oklahoma and Kansas and also coached the defensive backs for the Washington Redskins for five years. He has been a part of teams that have compiled an 11-6 record in bowl games throughout his career – including three Rose Bowl victories – and has coached 26 defensive backs who moved on to NFL rosters, including five first-round draft picks.
Prior to arriving at Stanford in 2005, Hayes spent the 2001 season at Kansas. He was the Jayhawks’ defensive coordinator and secondary coach and was interim head coach for the final three games of the season.
Hayes spent the 1995-99 seasons coaching the secondary for the Redskins under Norv Turner. A list of the NFL standouts Hayes has worked with includes cornerbacks Darrell Green, Cris Dishman and Champ Bailey while with the Redskins. At UCLA, Hayes was a key part of establishing the school’s history of NFL-bound safeties by tutoring Kenny Easley, Don Rogers, James Washington, Eric Turner and Carnell Lake. In his stint at Texas A&M, Hayes coached cornerback Kevin Smith.
Hayes coached under Gary Gibbs at the University of Oklahoma for four years (1991-94), under R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M for two years (1989-90) and under Terry Donahue at UCLA for nine seasons (1980-88).
At Oklahoma, Hayes was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He helped the Sooners to a pair of nine-win seasons and three bowl games, including a win over Virginia in the 1991 Gator Bowl and a victory over Texas Tech in the 1993 Hancock Bowl.
Hayes was the assistant head coach and secondary coach for two seasons at Texas A&M. He helped direct the Aggies to a combined 17-7-1 record and trips to the Hancock Bowl in 1989 (lost to Pittsburgh) and the Holiday Bowl in 1990 (victory over BYU).
Hayes worked for nine years as an assistant coach under Donahue at UCLA (1980-88). He was the secondary coach in 1980-81, then was promoted to co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach from 1982-88. In nine seasons in Westwood, Hayes was part of a Bruin program that won four Pac-10 Championships, appeared in three Rose Bowls and eight bowl games overall, went 7-1 in bowl competition and finished among the top five nationally five times and among the top 20 eight times. The Bruins never won less than seven games during Hayes’ nine-year tenure.
The Bruins went 10-1-1 in 1982 and finished fifth in the nation after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. In 1983, UCLA again won the Pac-10 title and beat Illinois in the Rose Bowl. A few years later, in 1985, UCLA went 9-2-1, beat Iowa in the Rose Bowl and finished as the nation’s No. 7 ranked team.
Hayes was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Cal State Fullerton in 1979 and was the secondary coach at his alma mater, Iowa, in 1977-78. He coached for five years on the high school level and one year at Coe College in Iowa before getting his first Division I job at Iowa in 1977.
Hayes was a three-year letterwinner as a defensive back for the Hawkeyes from 1967-71, and earned his degree from Iowa in Finance/Insurance in 1971. Born in Keokuk, Iowa, he and his wife Cindy have three children, Andy, Lindsay and Sarah.