Frank Thomas (American football)

Frank William Thomas (November 15, 1898 – May 10, 1954) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Chattanooga from 1925 to 1928 and at the University of Alabama from 1931 to 1946, compiling a career college football record of 141–33–9. During his tenure at Alabama, Thomas amassed a record of 115–24–7 and won four Southeastern Conference titles while his teams allowed an average of just 6.3 points per game.[2] Thomas's 1934 Alabama team completed a 10–0 season with a victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl and was named national champion by a number of selectors.

Thomas's total wins and winning percentage at Alabama rank third all-time among Crimson Tide football coaches, behind only Nick Saban & Paul "Bear" Bryant, whom Thomas coached in the mid-1930s. Thomas never coached a losing season, and twice his teams had undefeated, 10-win campaigns. Thomas was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951.

Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas (American football)
Biographical details
BornNovember 15, 1898
Muncie, Indiana
DiedMay 10, 1954 (aged 55)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Playing career
1917–1918Western State Normal
1920–1922Notre Dame
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1923–1924Georgia (assistant)
1929–1930Georgia (backfield)
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
2 National (1934, 1941)[1]
3 SIAA (1926–1928)
4 SEC (1933–1934, 1937, 1945)
SEC Coach of the Year (1945)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1951 (profile)

Early life

Thomas was born in Muncie, Indiana. His parents, James and Elizabeth Williams Thomas, were recent immigrants from Cardiff, Wales.[3] He was a star athlete in high school.

College athletics

Thomas played quarterback for coach Knute Rockne at University of Notre Dame from 1920 to 1922. According to Rockne, Thomas was the smartest player he ever coached.[4] Thomas's roommate and best friend at Notre Dame was George "The Gipper" Gipp.


After graduating from Notre Dame, 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 Chattanooga, where his teams' record was 26–9–2 in four seasons. In 1931, he accepted the head coaching job at the University of Alabama, where he established himself as one of the top coaches in the nation. His bowl record at Alabama was 4–2, with wins at the Rose Bowl (1935, 1946), Cotton Bowl Classic (1942), and Orange Bowl (1943). He became the coach and mentor to future Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Other notable players included Don Hutson, Vaughn Mancha, Harry Gilmer, Johnny Cain, and Riley Smith.

A frequent smoker, Thomas commonly smoked cigars on the sidelines during games. Thomas fell ill with heart and lung disease. Too weak to both coach and take care of his mentally ill daughter, his declining health finally forced his resignation from coaching in 1946.[5] He remained Alabama's athletic director.

Death and legacy

In 1951, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Thomas died in 1954 at the age of 55 at Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 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, Harold Drew.

In 2006, a bronze statue of Thomas was erected outside of the University of Alabama's Bryant–Denny Stadium alongside the statues of Wallace Wade, Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings and now Nick Saban, the other head coaches who have led Alabama to national championships.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Chattanooga Moccasins (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1925–1928)
1925 Chattanooga 4–4
1926 Chattanooga 6–2–2 4–0 T–1st
1927 Chattanooga 8–1 5–0 T–1st
1928 Chattanooga 8–2 3–0 1st
Chattanooga: 26–9–2
Alabama Crimson Tide (Southern Conference) (1931–1932)
1931 Alabama 9–1 7–1 3rd
1932 Alabama 8–2 5–2 T–5th
Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (1933–1946)
1933 Alabama 7–1–1 5–0–1 1st
1934 Alabama 10–0 7–0 T–1st W Rose
1935 Alabama 6–2–1 4–2 5th
1936 Alabama 8–0–1 5–0–1 2nd 4
1937 Alabama 9–1 6–0 1st L Rose 4
1938 Alabama 7–1–1 4–1–1 T–2nd 13
1939 Alabama 5–3–1 2–3–1 8th
1940 Alabama 7–2 4–2 4th
1941 Alabama 9–2 5–2 3rd W Cotton 20
1942 Alabama 8–3 4–2 5th W Orange 10
1943 No teamWorld War II
1944 Alabama 5–2–2 3–1–2 T–3rd L Sugar
1945 Alabama 10–0 6–0 1st W Rose 2
1946 Alabama 7–4 4–3 6th
Alabama: 115–24–7 71–19–6
Total: 141–33–9
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ "Alabama Crimson Tide Football History". University of Alabama. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  2. ^ Groom, 2000, p.81.
  3. ^ Lewis Bowling, "Frank Thomas" Encyclopedia of Alabama (last updated May 2013).
  4. ^ Tribune, MIKE TANKERSLEY The Arab. "Remembering the great Frank Thomas: Local woman has family ties with Bama legend". The Arab Tribune. Retrieved 2019-02-08.
  5. ^ Groom, 2000, p.80.


  • Stone, Naylor (1954) Coach Tommy of the Crimson Tide. Birmingham, Alabama: Vulcan Press.
  • Groom, Winston. The Crimson Tide - An Illustrated History. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8173-1051-7
  • Bowling, Lewis. "EOA Links." Encyclopedia of Alabama: Frank Thomas. N.p., 26 Feb. 2009. Web.

External links

Frank (given name)

Frank is a masculine given name.

Ultimately from the Germanic tribal name of the Franks, in the early medieval Frankish Empire, the status of being "a Frank" became synonymous with that of a free man; hence also the English adjective frank (Middle English, from Old French franc, 12th century).

Use as a given name seems to arise already in the Carolingian period; the Old High German form Francho, Franko is on record from the 8th century. While Frank is a given name in its own right, in fact reflecting the Old Frankish form *Frank, the given name in the United States arose again in the 20th century as a short form of Francis (which is itself a shortening of Franciscus, i.e. "the Frenchman", in reference to Saint Francis of Assisi), as popularized by Frank Sinatra (born Francis Albert Sinatra, 1915–1998).

Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas may refer to:

Frank Thomas (American football) (1898–1954), American football player and coach

Frank Thomas (animator) (1912–2004), one of Walt Disney's team of animators known as the Nine Old Men

Frank Thomas (bishop) (1930–1988), English prelate of the Roman Catholic Church.

Frank Thomas (cricketer) (1877-1924), English cricketer

Frank Thomas (designated hitter) (born 1968), Major League Baseball player in the American League from 1990 to 2008, Hall of Famer

Frank Thomas (outfielder) (born 1929), Major League Baseball player in the National League from 1951 to 1966

Frank Thomas (comics) (1914–1968), American cartoonist, creator of The Eye and Fantom of the Fair

Frank Thomas (musician) (born 1943), American singer, songwriter and guitarist

Frank Thomas (Australian footballer) (1905-2001), Australian rules footballer who played with Hawthorn and Sturt.

Frank Thomas (French songwriter) (1936–2017), French songwriter

Frank M. Thomas (1889–1989), American actor, father of Frankie Thomas

Frankie Thomas (1921–2006), American actor and author

Frankie Thomas (cyclist) (born 1907 – death date unattested), Australian cyclist

Thomas (surname)

Thomas is a common surname of English, Welsh, Scottish, French, German, Dutch, and Danish origin.

It derives from the medieval personal name, of Biblical origin, from Aramaic תאומא t'om'a, a byname meaning 'twin'. It was borne by one of the disciples of Christ, best known for his skepticism about Christ's resurrection (John 20:24–29). The th- spelling in English results from the initial letter of the name in the Greek New Testament being a theta. The English pronunciation as t rather than a dental fricative is the result of French influence from an early date. In Britain, the surname is widely distributed throughout the country, but especially common in Scotland, Cornwall, and Wales. Thomas is the ninth most common surname in the United Kingdom. It is found as a personal name among Christians in India, and in the United States; it is also used as a family name among the Saint Thomas Christian families from Kerala, South India.In the 1990 United States Census, Thomas was the twelfth most common surname, accounting for 0.3% of the population.In France, Thomas (pronounced [tɔma]) is the third most widespread surname after Martin and Bernard, with over 100,000 people with this name.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.