Dodge City Community College announced Friday the naming of Gary Thomas as the Conquistadors' new football head coach. Thomas coached for two seasons as the College of DuPage (Iowa), where his Chaparral teams went a combined 16-5 and finished eighth in the final NJCAA poll (including a 42-29 victory over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the Citizens Bank Bowl).
Before coaching with the Chaparrals, Thomas had been a coach at Western State (Colo.), Adams State (Colo.) and West Texas A&M after a two-year stint as its quarterback.
Thomas will be taking over a Conqs' squad that finished winless in nine games in the 2012 campaign and won seven games in six years under under Bob Majeski.
"We're not going to win a national title overnight, but that is our eventual goal. We just need to build some stability next year and we need to build the foundation," Thomas, who was out recruiting, said in a phone interview. "We're going to be aggressive early in the recruiting process, especially in Kansas.
"We also have a decent amount of people at four-year schools that we feel would be willing to put some Division I kids into the program."
Thomas was successful with the Chaparrals despite not being able to give any scholarships, assistance to players or any full-time assistant coaches. DuPage was the highest ranked school with those limitations with Thomas also spending time remaining as offensive coordinator (which he had been for five previous seasons) and as an academic advisor.
"Resource-wise, we're spread a little thin and a lot of time is spent not doing football stuff," Thomas said. "Not that academics are not important because these are student-athletes, but this allows me to give my best effort. We'll be able to have a full-time staff to help build the program.
"And we'll be able to help the kids better. We had kids who were having to buy their own books or having to find money for food or having to find places to live and we were helping them in those aspects. This is supposed to be an opportunity to enhance the students."
DCCC athletic director Casey Malek drove Thomas to Dodge City after the game and said he was convinced after the five-hour drive that the school had found its new coach.
"I was quite impressed how he and his staff conducted themselves and how hard his kids played and conducted themselves," Malek said. "I was overly impressed with his demeanor and his vision of what he wanted to do here. He was what we wanted in a head coach."