NATCHITOCHES - Jay Thomas' coaching honeymoon began with a room full of Northwestern State football supporters, looking to a friend and a former colleague to return their football program to prominence.
"I think the guys on a day-to-day basis are gonna like his approach," Greg Burke, Northwestern State Athletic Director, said. "It's gonna be even-keeled and you're gonna know exactly what you're gonna get."
Familiarity was a factor in Burke's decision to hire Thomas as NSU's new football coach.
Thomas coached at Northwestern State--in the Southland Conference--as an assistant coach under Brad Peveto (whose contract was not renewed following the 2012 season) between 2009-2012.
As head coach at Southland Conference member Nicholls State between 2004-2009, he won a conference championship and earned the Southland Conference coach of the year award in his second season, but that was the high-point.
"At Nicholls, the situation, I'll be very frank, it wasn't quite the honeymoon," Thomas said.
In his five seasons at Nicholls, he posted a 27-35 overall record. Burke thinks a second tour-of-duty at NSU and the Southland Conference has brought a fresh perspective.
"He's been on a lot of sidelines and he's been through a whole lot. Probably a lot of up's, probably a lot of downs," Burke said.
Thomas wasn't Burke's first-choice. Two other coaches turned the Demons down before the school settled on Thomas, but being first isn't always being right.
"Probably if you ask my wife," Thomas said. "I probably wasn't her first choice either."
The honeymoon period will fade, and when it does, the work begins: NSU hasn't had a winning season since 2008.