Jay Niemann was named assistant defensive line coach and defensive recruiting coordinator in May, 2019. Niemann joined the Hawkeye coaching staff after serving as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Rutgers University for three seasons (2016-18).
Iowa posted an 8-5 record in 2022, concluding the season with a 21-0 win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl and wins in five of its final six games. Iowa’s streak of 10 straight bowl invitations is the longest in school history and the Hawkeyes have been in the Top 25 final rankings in four of the last five seasons. Iowa’s streak of 10 straight winning seasons ranks 10th best in the nation.
Iowa’s defense led the way in 2022, including posting just the second shutout in Iowa’s 35 bowl games. The defense led the nation in with seven defensive touchdowns. Iowa’s defense was in the top 12 in the nation in scoring defense (second), total defense (second), pass efficiency defense (fourth), passing yards per game (sixth), first down defense (10th), third down defense (11th) and rushing defense (12th).
Four of Iowa’s defensive linemen in 2022 earned All-Big Ten recognition. Joe Evans and Lukas Van Ness earned second team honors, while tackles Logan Lee and Noah Shannon were named honorable mention. Evans and Shannon will return for a fifth season in 2023, while Lee will be a senior. Van Ness declared for the 2023 NFL Draft and was selected in the first round by the Green Bay Packers (13th overall selection).
The Hawkeyes won 10 games in 2021, winning the Big Ten’s West Division title and advancing to the conference championship game. Iowa concluded the season with an appearance in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl and was ranked 23rd in the final national rankings.
Iowa closed the 2021 regular season with four straight victories to earn the West Division title for the second time since 2015. Iowa earned 24 conference wins between 2018-21, matching Iowa’s highest four-year conference win total since 2002-05.
Iowa’s defense set a school record and led the nation with 25 interceptions in 2021. The defense ranked among national leaders in takeaways (30, third), defensive touchdowns scored (four, seventh), pass efficiency defense (110.5, sixth), turnover margin (0.8, 11th), rushing defense (114.4, 13th), scoring defense (19.2, 13th) and total defense (328.8, 18th).
Three Rutgers defenders earned postseason honors from the Big Ten. Senior safety Saquan Hampton and senior linebacker Trevor Morris earned honorable mention recognition, and senior cornerback Isaiah Wharton received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Two Scarlet Knights ranked among Big Ten leaders in tackles in 2018. Morris ranked No. 3, averaging 9.1 tackles per game, and senior linebacker Deonte Roberts ranked No. 11, averaging 7.9 tackles.
Niemann’s Scarlet Knight defense in 2017 was key in victories over Purdue (14-12), Illinois (35-24) and Maryland (31-24). Rutgers’ defense ranked No. 48 in the nation in fewest opponent first downs allowed (243) and No. 55 in fewest passing yards allowed (216.8). In Niemann’s first season at Rutgers the Scarlet Knights ranked No. 6 in the nation in red zone defense (.727) and 18th in passing yards allowed per game (186.5).
Niemann’s top defensive player at NIU was safety Jimmie Ward, who was selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The 30th overall pick, Ward led the Huskies in tackles in each of his final two seasons. In all, Niemann’s Huskie defense produced seven players who signed with NFL teams.
In 2015, NIU ranked eighth in the nation in turnovers gained (29) and fourth in interceptions (22). Sophomore cornerback Shawun Lurry led the FBS with nine interceptions and earned multiple All-America honors. The defensive unit posted 26 sacks with 15 different players involved in at least a half sack.
Six NIU defensive players earned All-MAC honors in 2014 as six opponents were held to 17 points or less. In 2012, the NIU defense held five opponents to nine points or less en route to a second straight MAC title and a historic berth in the Orange Bowl at the conclusion of the season. In the 2011 MAC Championship game, the NIU defense shut out Ohio in the second half en route to a 23-20 victory, the school’s first MAC football title in 28 years.
NIU won the Mid-American Conference West Division all five seasons (2011-15) Niemann was on the staff, capturing the MAC Championship three times (2011, ‘12 and ‘14). The Huskies played in a bowl game each of those five seasons. Northern Illinois won the 2011 GoDaddy Bowl and played in the Orange Bowl following the 2012 season.
During his tenure at Hardin-Simmons, Niemann helped turn a defense that ranked last in the nation prior to his arrival into the No. 2 unit in the American Southwest Conference in 2009. He helped guide Hardin-Simmons to the first round of the 2008 NCAA Division III playoffs.
Niemann served as the head coach at Simpson College from 2002-07. Niemann compiled a 32-29 record in his six seasons (2002-07) as head coach at Simpson. He led the Storm to the 2003 NCAA Division III Playoffs while also serving as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. He was named the 2003 Iowa Conference Coach of the Year.
Niemann was on the Northern Iowa coaching staff from 1997-2001. He was defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000, and coached the secondary (1997, 2001), and linebackers (1998-2000). The Panthers advanced to the semifinals of the 2001 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Prior to his arrival at UNI, Niemann spent eight seasons at Drake University (1989-96), where he was the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1995. In his final three seasons, the Bulldog defense ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense.
Niemann coached linebackers and special teams in 1985 at Western Washington while pursuing his master’s degree. Niemann accepted a graduate assistant position at Washington in 1986, working with the Husky linebackers and defensive backs while coaching under Washington legends Don James and Jim Lambright.
Niemann completed his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Iowa State in 1983 and received his master’s degree in educational administration from Western Washington in 1989. He played linebacker at Iowa State from 1979-82 after earning all-state honors as a prep at Avo-Ha Community High School in Avoca, Iowa.
Jay and his wife, Lou Ann, have two sons, Ben and Nick. Both Ben and Nick were involved in the Iowa football program. Ben was a letterman from 2014-17 and was a key defensive contributor for the Kansas City Chiefs for four seasons before playing for Arizona in 2022 and signing with Tennessee prior to the 2023 season. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl following the 2019 season and returned to the Super Bowl in 2020. Nick completed his senior season as a Hawkeye linebacker in 2020. Nick was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft and has been with the Chargers for two seasons.
Niemann’s Coaching Career
Team – Position, Years
Iowa – Assistant Defensive Line/Defensive Recruiting Coordinator, 2019-present
Rutgers – Defensive Coordinator, LB, 2016-18
Northern Illinois – Defensive Coordinator/Safeties, 2011-15
Hardin-Simmons – Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, 2008-10
Simpson College – Head Coach, 2002-07
Northern Iowa – Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, 1999-00
Northern Iowa – Linebackers, 1998
Northern Iowa – Secondary, 1997, 2001
Drake – Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, 1995-96
Drake – Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, 1989-94
Washington – Graduate Assistant/Defensive Backs/Linebackers, 1986-88
Western Washington – Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers, 1985