Niemann is a native of Avoca, Iowa. He will serve as Iowa’s assistant defensive line coach and assistant recruiting coordinator. Niemann was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Rutgers University the past three seasons and joins the Hawkeyes after being named linebackers coach at Wyoming earlier this spring.
“We had an excellent pool of coaching candidates, but one clearly stood out and that was Jay Niemann. Few coaches in college football today have Jay’s extensive defensive experience,” said Ferentz. “I’ve had the good fortune to know Jay for years – first as a coach and then as a parent when we recruited both of his sons. In every instance, I’ve always been impressed with him. He will be a valuable addition to our staff and program.”
Both of Niemann’s sons have been involved in the Iowa football program. Ben was a letterman from 2014-17 and was a rookie with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018. Nick heads into his junior season as a Hawkeye linebacker.
“As native Iowans, Lou Ann and I could not be more excited to be returning to our home state. As the parents of two sons who have been in the Hawkeye program, we know the strong commitment to both academic and football success at the University of Iowa,” said Niemann. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be affiliated with such a highly respected coach like Kirk Ferentz, as well as his outstanding staff.”
Along with the past three seasons at Rutgers, Niemann was the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois from 2011-15. He coached linebackers at Rutgers and safeties at Northern Illinois and was the co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Hardin-Simmons from 2008-10.
Niemann served as the head coach at Simpson College from 2002-07. He was on the Northern Iowa coaching staff from 1997-2001, coaching the secondary and linebackers. He was defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000. Niemann joined the Drake University staff in 1989, and was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs in 1995 and 1996. He began his coaching career at Western Washington in 1985 and was a graduate assistant coach at Washington from 1986-88.
Niemann’s 2018 defense at Rutgers ranked 19th in the nation and fourth in the Big Ten in pass defense, allowing opponents 186.7 yards per game. The Scarlet Knights ranked 45th in the nation in pass defense efficiency, with a rating of 123.29, and 46th in the nation in red-zone defense (.814).
Northern Illinois 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 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 coached the secondary (1997, 2001), linebackers (1998-2000) and served as defensive coordinator (1999-2000) during his five seasons at Northern Iowa. 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. After serving as the defensive backs coach from 1989-94, he was promoted to defensive coordinator and 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 1987. He played linebacker at Iowa State from 1979-82.