Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash will reportedly be the next head coach at Rutgers, per Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans.
Ash, like any other Urban Meyer assistant over the years, had his name mentioned in plenty of coaching searches. Ed Warinner, a member of the Buckeyes’ offensive staff, was viewed as a possible candidate for Kansas and Army in recent years, but he stayed in Columbus. Ash received a considerable amount of attention over the past few weeks. He was a candidate for the Syracuse job, but pulled his name out of contention. This cleared the way for Dino Babers, who will soon be officially announced as the Orange’s new head coach.
The 41-year-old Ash spent time at the University of Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012 as the Badgers’ defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. In the 2013 season at Arkansas, Ash held the same pair of positions.
Ash was the defensive coordinator for the 2014 national champion Buckeyes. This season with Ohio State, he’s led a defense which has been one of the best in the nation. The improvement the Buckeyes have shown on that side of the ball since the start of his tenure has been considerable. This defense struggled for much of 2014, but beginning with that season’s Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, a night-and-day difference emerged. Ash helped engineer a profound transformation in the Buckeyes’ defense, one he managed to cement this season. It was only a matter of time before somebody snagged him from Urban Meyer’s coaching staff.
If history tells you anything, Ash might just be the best candidate for Rutgers, given his credentials. Other Urban Meyer disciples include Charlie Strong, Kyle Whittingham, Gary Andersen, Doc Holliday, and most recently, Tom Herman, who has led the Houston Cougars to an 11-1 record in his first year at the program (with the Cougars pursuing a conference championship on Saturday afternoon against Temple).
That’s pretty good company, and it’ll take a good coach to turn around the Rutgers program. More precisely, the Scarlet Knights will need a strong and organized leader who can take hold of an operation which has been marred by all sorts of embarrassments in recent years, especially in 2015.
Former head coach Kyle Flood was suspended for three games, due to a host of reasons outlined here. Player arrests, improper contact with academic personnel, and other episodes made Flood’s continued employment quite untenable in Piscataway, N.J. The fact that former athletic director Julie Hermann had been awash in controversy since the start of her tenure makes it that much more important for Ash to carry a large workload in terms of setting a fresh tone for the program. Ash is stepping into a very uncertain situation.
Rutgers has already fallen down. A man named Ash will try to make the Scarlet Knights rise again.