We're now in the fourth day of Rutgers' coaching search, and it appears Rutgers fans have a new name to speculate on.
This morning, Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman tweeted this:
This is one of the few times a credible source has actually named a candidate Rutgers has expressed interest in beyond speculation. Still, Feldman's report gives the impression a potential Ash hire is not imminent, especially with Syracuse in the mix for his services. But things got much more interesting when USA Today's Dan Wolken reported this:
Breaking: Chris Ash has pulled out of the Syracuse search, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Clears way for Dino Babers— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) December 2, 2015
Although Ash might not be the marquee name Rutgers fans are hoping for, his body of work is pretty impressive. Before the 2011 season, Ash was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. In both of his seasons running the defense for the Badgers in 2011-2012, Wisconsin ranked 15th in the nation in total defense.
While he took a step back in 2013 as defensive coordinator of Arkansas, he bounced back in a big way in 2014 when he joined the Ohio State coaching staff. Sharing defensive coordinator duties with Luke Fickell, he coached another Top 15 defense on his way to a national title. This season, Ohio State is 10th in the nation in total defense, and second in scoring.
So does Wolken's report mean Ash-to-Rutgers is a certainty? Not necessarily. Babers seems to be the heavy favorite for the Syracuse job, so it's possible Ash pulled out with knowledge Babers will get the gig. But it's looking like Ash is a real possibility. ESPN's Brett McMurphy has this to say...
Was told former Miami coach Al Golden & Ohio State DC Chris Ash among top Rutgers “high interest” candidates— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 2, 2015
It's important to note McMurphy considers Ash and Golden "among" the high interest candidates, suggesting they might not be the only ones Rutgers is expressing a high level of interest in.
The much-speculated reunion between Rutgers and Greg Schiano seems to be growing less and less likely by the day, as no credible source has linked Schiano to the Rutgers job, and most people seem to think Schiano has his sights set on the Miami gig.
While it's still a mystery who will be coaching the Scarlet Knights next season, today's news suggests Ash is a very real candidate to do so.
What do you think? Would Ash be a strong hire? Or would you rather see Schiano, Golden, Cristobal, etc.? Sound off in the comments below!