Once I heard the news that Rutgers was hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash as the new head football coach, I reached out to Eleven Warriors for their take on Ash. If you haven't visited 11w, do yourself a favor and check them out.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Eric Seger of 11w, and asked him on who exactly Chris Ash is, and who he may be to the Scarlet Knights football program. I even asked if Rutgers is truly where Ash wants to be, or if Piscataway is merely a small blip on a big radar for Ash in his future.
The first thing I'll say about Ash is that he is as intense as they come in college coaching. He's always been straight with the media in his two seasons at Ohio State, regardless if it was on a topic he could comment on or not. The guy appears to be a tireless worker in the film room, on the practice field and the recruiting trail.
Outside of bringing the press quarters scheme to the back end of the Ohio State defense — which is what Urban Meyer wanted more than anything — Ash's primary job on staff was to work with the Buckeye safeties. He helped mold Vonn Bell into a potential early round NFL Draft selection this spring, and put Tyvis Powell into positions to make plays throughout the post-season last year. To put it simply, he and co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell deserve a bunch of credit for the work they did to better Ohio State's defense from where it was in 2013 (47th nationally in total defense) to more serviceable in 2014 (19th) and even better this year (10th).
As far as recruiting goes, Ash's ties to Arkansas from when he coached there with Bret Bielema in 2013 helped him land wide receiver K.J. Hill last year. Hill will redshirt this year, but next year figures to be an integral part in Ohio State's offense with so much talent leaving. He's known as straightforward and honest on the recruiting trail, a perfect fit for how Meyer operates.
Ohio State fans (I think) aren't going to know how good they had it until Ash is gone. Sure, you can say that with regards to anything Ohio State football right now because of its recent string of success, but Ash helped revitalize a defense that was horrid against the pass prior to his arrival. The players trusted him, because he instilled confidence in them to play close to the line of scrimmage and let their talent take over. We don't know yet who Meyer intends to replace him with, but Ash is sure to be missed among Ohio State fans and within the program.
Ever since he arrived in Columbus, I could sense that Ash was a two-years-and-out guy. He wasn't shy about wanting to be a head coach eventually, so I think he sees Rutgers as an opportunity with a clean slate where he can instill the values and plan he wants. Because Rutgers fired its athletic director in addition to its football coach, it is pretty evident the Scarlet Knights are starting over.
Ash will bring an intense, honest, straightforward and no-nonsense philosophy to New Jersey. He's a tireless worker, which is something Rutgers seems like it needs right now.
Probably quite a bit, but Urban Meyer and the rest of his staff aren't going to quit heading that way to poach talent. It's too fruitful an area for that to happen. However, Ash is sure try and establish some sort of influence in New Jersey to try and keep those talented players home. It's the only prayer he has at competing in an extremely difficult Big Ten East Division.
That's hard to say right now, but if I had to guess, I'd say Ash probably sees Rutgers as a stepping stone. He's from Iowa, so if that job or even Iowa State would open up again in a few years, he might consider a move. For now, though, he's going to do his best to succeed as a head coach in his first opportunity. I thought he was the second-best assistant on Ohio State's staff during the 2014 season behind Tom Herman, who just won an American Athletic Championship and went 12-1 at the University of Houston. An immediate turnaround like that at Rutgers is unlikely, but Ash certainly has the drive to make the Scarlet Knights competitive.