Tom Mason is in his fifth season on the Hilltop where he serves as SMU's Associate Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach. In his tenure, he has transformed the SMU defense into one of the nation's best. In 2007, the year prior to Mason's arrival, SMU finished the year ranked 116th in total defense. In 2011, SMU ranked 26th, an improvement of 90 spots.
Mason has also guided numerous Mustangs to All-League honors. The 2011 season alone saw eight Mustangs defenders earn All-Conference accolades - first-teamers Richard Crawford and Taylor Thompson, second-team Ja'Gared Davis, Marquis Frazier and Taylor Reed, honorable mention selections Chris Banjo, Margus Hunt and Torlan Pittman. The season was capped off with a BBVA Compass Bowl win that saw the Mustangs limit Pitt to just 10 rushing yards and a Bowl-record-low six points.
The 2010 season saw Davis and Thompson tabbed first-teamers, while Banjo and Youri Yenga were second-team picks. Honorable mention picks were Crawford, Pete Fleps, Hunt and Taylor Reed.
In 2009, Mason transformed SMU's defense from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 and the results were immediate. In SMU's 45-10 win over Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the Mustang defense held the Wolf Pack's No. 1-ranked rushing offense to a season-low 137 yards - more than 200 yards below its average. Under his tutelage, SMU linebacker Chase Kennemer was named first-team All-C-USA and seven other Mustangs were tabbed for honorable mention All-Conference honors.
Mason arrived on the Hilltop after spending seven seasons at Fresno State, where he coached linebackers. There, he developed numerous standout linebackers including 2007 WAC Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Riley, 2006 first-team All-WAC honoree Dwayne Andrews and 2003 first-teamer Bryce McGill.
Mason joined the Bulldog coaching staff in 2001 after spending one season as linebackers coach with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL. He also spent time in the pro ranks as receivers coach for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League and as defensive backs coach for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe.
Mason also boasts an extensive collegiate resume, having served as defensive coordinator (1999) and secondary coach (1998-99) at Nevada and defensive coordinator at both Northern Iowa (1997-98) and Boise State (1993-96). At Boise, Mason helped coordinate a Bronco defense that reached the 1994 NCAA Division I-AA national championship game and then served as Boise's interim head coach from August through November 1996. Prior to his time in Boise, he was defensive coordinator at Portland State (1982-86), helping lead the Vikings to four playoff appearances and two national championship games. He also served as the linebackers coach at Eastern Washington (1981-85) and was the defensive line coach at Walla Walla (Wash.) Community College (1978-80).
As a player, Mason began his career as a linebacker at Idaho before transferring to Walla Walla (Wash.) Community College. He finished out his playing career at Nevada from 1976-77.
Mason received his bachelor's degree in physical education and a master of science degree in physical education and post-secondary education from Eastern Washington.
Mason and his wife, Jami, have a daughter, Brenna.