With his hiring at Rutgers pending, co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash tells me that he will coach for #OhioState through the bowl game.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) December 6, 2015
There has been some backlash in social media and local meda about new Rutgers football coach Chris Ash staying with Ohio State to coach in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day. It's easy to get upset about it and blow up the impact of this decision out of proportion. Would it be better for Rutgers if Ash took on his new role full time as of today? Of course, but at the same time he is still pledging his full commitment today, it's just on top of his current responsibilities. Here is why it's not that big of a deal and what positives can be taken from his decision.
He likely won't be splitting duties 50/50
With Luke Fickell as the co-defensive coordinator, Ash will have less responsibilities for the Fiesta Bowl than he did for normal game preparation. While he is committing to coaching in the game, that doesn't mean he will be evenly splitting his time between Rutgers and Ohio State. He will be involved in game planning but it's likely he will miss significant practice time. Don't let this fool you into thinking he isn't dedicating most of his time and thoughts into his plan at Rutgers.
Recruiting Dead Period Starts December 14th
Hope Muschamp can assemble staff in the dead period, then make a splash in recruiting afterwards pic.twitter.com/ax9GD8JXr8— Tim Carpenter (@tcarp_SCfan) December 6, 2015
Starting a week from today, college football coaches will be unable to host or actively recruit high school players until January 13th. This tweet was in regards to new South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, but the same applies to Ash and Rutgers. Ash coaching the Fiesta Bowl doesn't impede him from recruiting for Rutgers, because he will probably dedicate a big portion of this week evaluating the current Rutgers class and reach out to targets. He'll also then be able to dedicate a large portion of his time filling out his coaching staff during the dead recruiting period. Let me say it again, this will not negatively impact recruiting!
In fact, I argue that it's actually a positive as Ash will be a free advertisement for Rutgers football on New Year's day. The announcers are sure to mention his new gig at Rutgers roughly 20+ times when Ohio State takes on Notre Dame. This game is the best non-playoff match-up of the bowl season and there will be millions of people watching. One group that will be watching are recruits, who will see firsthand Ash's defense on display. I don't know how this can be considered anything but a positive.
Displaying Commitment to Current Players and Loyalty to His Mentor
Another great selling point is that Ash is not dropping current responsibilities for new ones. He is making the right decision, not the convenient one. How many of you have changed jobs and given two or more weeks of notice? Helping your old employer in the transition before leaving your current job is called fulfilling your responsibilities and giving professional courtesy. You never want to burn bridges in your career, and Ash is seeing his current season through to completion by coaching in the bowl game. It's a great selling point to recruits, that Ash cares about his current players and doesn't want to abandon them before their bowl game. This positive message should resonate with recruits and high school coaches, proof that Ash will teach them on the right way to live their lives.
Ash is also doing the right thing for his boss and mentor, Urban Meyer. Ash was upfront with Meyer when he was hired that he viewed this job as a stepping stone to become a head coach. Ash is showing his loyalty and thanks to Meyer by staying. It's another important quality that shows Ash is a man of integrity.
Last season, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman was named the head coach of Houston. He stayed on through the national championship game in mid-January before starting full-time at Houston. Did that get him off to a bad start? Not at all, as Herman led the Cougars to a 12-1 record and AAC title in his first season. Ash has more of a rebuild at Rutgers than Herman had at Houston, but he will also start two weeks earlier than Herman did. Ash staying with Ohio State through December will just be a blip on the radar screen in his career at Rutgers.
Today is a day for celebration, as we have a well qualified coach who has learned from legends, taking over the Rutgers football program. The future is bright, don't get caught up in negative thinking by some in trying to ruin new beginnings. At long last Kyle Flood is right, Rutgers is going 1-0 today! (could not resist, now it's time to put that phrase to bed forever!) It's a great day for Rutgers indeed!
UPDATE: Ash's response from this afternoon's press conference.