Frank W. Thomas

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Frank W. Thomas (born November 15, 1898 in Muncie, Indiana; died May 10, 1954 in Tuscaloosa) was the head football coach of the University of Alabama from 1932 to 1946. During his tenure, he compiled a 115-24-7 (.812) record and won two national championships (1934 and 1941). His winning percentage ranks second all-time among Alabama coaches (behind Paul "Bear" Bryant). He never coached a losing season, but coached two 10 win seasons. In 1945, his team scored 50 or more points in four straight games at the end of the regular season.

Thomas played quarterback for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame from 1920 to 1922. He was, according to Rockne, the smartest player he ever coached. His roommate and best friend at Notre Dame was the famous George "The Gipper" Gipp.

After graduating, Thomas became an assistant coach at the University of Georgia for two years before earning his first head coaching job in 1925 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he went 26-9-2. In 1931 he accepted the job at Alabama, where he established himself as one of the top coaches in the nation. His bowl record at Alabama was 501, with wins at the Rose Bowl (1931, 1935, 1946), Cotton Bowl (1942), Orange Bowl (1943), and Sugar Bowl (1945). He became the coach and mentor for future Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Other notable players included Don Hutson, Vaughn Mancha, Harry Gilmer, Johnny Cain, and Riley Smith.

Declining health forced his resignation from coaching in 1946, but he remained Alabama's Athletic Director. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Thomas died in 1954 at the age of 55 at Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa. An illustrated book published later that year told his story. The football practice fields at the University of Alabama are named for Thomas and his successor Red Drew. A statue of Thomas sits outside Bryant-Denny Stadium, along with the other Crimson Tide coaches who led their teams to National Championships (Wallace Wade, Bear Bryant, and Gene Stallings). In 1969, Thomas was a charter inductee of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Preceded by:
Wallace Wade
University of Alabama Head Football Coach
Succeeded by:
Harold D. Drew
Preceded by:
Hank Crisp
Alabama Crimson Tide, Director of Athletics
Succeeded by:
Pete Cawthon


  • Frank Thomas (football coach)[1]. (2008, January 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17:53, March 11, 2008.
  • Stone, Naylor (1954) Coach Tommy of the Crimson Tide. Birmingham, Ala.: Vulcan Press.

External links