The Huskies fell in the final two games of the season and suffered their first offseason loss when Arkansas hired Washington running backs coach Joel Thomas to the same position Monday.
Thomas leaves Washington after four years. He came in as part of Steve Sarkisian’s original staff when Sarkisian took over in 2009. Now, just three assistants — offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto, wide receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty and assistant head coach/recruiting/special teams Johnny Nansen – remain from that group.
Thomas coached a 1,000-yard rusher each season he was at Washington – Chris Polk the first three and Bishop Sankey this year. He also had several local recruiting ties.
Thomas was under contract with Washington through the 2013 season. He was paid $190,000 last season and was in line to make $205,000 next season.
He is the second coach from Sarkisian’s staff to leave for the SEC. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier was hired by top-ranked Alabama following the 2011 season.
“Joel Thomas has a proven record of developing running backs,” new Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said in a statement. “He excelled at the position as a player and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect with his student-athletes and pass his knowledge on to them. He also brings a strong background of recruiting in Texas and Dallas, specifically, which is a valuable area for us to have a presence.”
Arkansas hired Bielema away from Wisconsin on Dec. 4. He hired Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who worked with Thomas at Purdue when Thomas was a graduate assistant in 2000-2001, shortly afterward.
Thomas is a Port Angeles native. He played running back at Idaho and is in the University of Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @Todd_Dybas