There's no doubt the biggest story surrounding Rutgers athletics this week is the hiring of Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash as the new head coach of the Scarlet Knights. Ash was officially introduced yesterday at the Hale Center, and the Ash Era is officially underway.
Ash has a collegiate coaching career spanning three decades, but this is his first head coaching gig. Since his hiring became official, many have offered their opinions on what Ash brings to the Rutgers program.
Reaction from fellow coaches
Many of the coaches Ash has worked with along the way had glowing things to say, including Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.
"I would like to congratulate Chris Ash on his becoming the head coach at Rutgers University and, at the same time, truly thank him for the excellent coaching, mentoring and teaching he has provided this football program over the last two seasons," he said. "Chris is an outstanding young man; a really fine coach and an exceptional husband and father. I am happy for the opportunity that he, his wife Doreen and young family are about to take on and I wish them all the best."
Ash was a part of Meyer's staff that won a national championship last year. Before he joined the Buckeyes, Ash spent a year as defensive coordinator of Arkansas under coach Bret Bielema.
"Very excited for Chris and the opportunity he has at Rutgers and in the Big Ten Conference," Bielema said. "He's got all the tools to lead a program and has certainly earned it. As a first-year head coach I'll be there to help him in any way, but my guess is he'll do just fine."
Prior to their year together in Arkansas, Bielema and Ash coached together at Wisconsin. Badgers AD Barry Alvarez also had glowing words when asked about Ash.
"Chris did a great job for us at Wisconsin and has been successful at every stop he's made as an assistant. I was always impressed with his preparation and the way he motivated his players. He's ready to be a head coach. I think Chris is a great fit for Rutgers and I'm happy to have him as a head coach in our league."
While at Wisconsin, Ash coached alongside NC State head coach Dave Doeren. The two also briefly worked together in the late '90s at Drake.
"I'm very excited for both Chris and Rutgers. As long as I've been coaching college football, we've had a special relationship - talking defense, talking motivation and talking the game of life," Doeren said. "I have the greatest respect for him as a teacher, coach and person, and knew it was just a matter of time before he became a head coach. I can't wait to see what he can do."
As with Doeren, Ash also got to know Florida Atlantic head coach Charlie Partridge during stints at Drake and Wisconsin.
"It was only a matter of time before Chris got an opportunity to lead a program. He has a plan that he has been working on since he started coaching in 1995 at Drake University. He has been under some tremendous coaches. He will have great success at Rutgers," Patridge said.
Reaction from the team
Change can be difficult. And say what you want about him, but Kyle Flood was beloved by most of his players. So it's not a stretch to think the current Rutgers players may have been a little hesitant about Flood's replacement, like a child meeting their divorced mom's new boyfriend for the first time.
But based on tweets from the players, it seems like Ash's first meeting with the team on Monday morning couldn't have gone better.
Several players have tweeted out what appears to be the new mantra for Rutgers football that Ash has installed: Fight or flight.
Fight or flight .. #AshEra— dos (@Hester_2k) December 7, 2015
Fight Or Flight!!!! #AshEra ⚫️ ⚪️— Deonte Roberts (@DeonteR_1) December 7, 2015
Spread offense!!! New me, new year, new energy, new team, new swagger, new legacy! Fight or flight! pic.twitter.com/RuZavF7xAE— BIG NAK (@NakiaGriffin) December 7, 2015
Fight or Flight #AshEra— Mike Dare (@Mike_Dare18) December 7, 2015
Fight or flight #AshEra— Trevor Morris (@AsAp_TrizZ_10) December 7, 2015
#AshEra ⚫️⚪️— Jack Clements (@clements_jack) December 7, 2015
Rutgers has not yet hired a new offensive coordinator, but during his press conference on Monday, Ash described the offense he wants to install as "multiple." Some players seem to be under the impression that means we could be seeing a spread offense, which excites RB Robert Martin.
Rob Martin in a spread offense.... Need I say more lol....— RMIII (@RobMartin_7) December 7, 2015
Reaction from recruits
A coaching change will always result in some unrest from the incoming recruiting class, and Rutgers has been no exception as a few commits from the 2016 class have already decommitted.
But a few have expressed their opinions on Chris Ash, including LB commit Jonathan Pollock, thought by many to be the leader of Rutgers' 2016 recruiting class.
Fight or Flight.....#AshEra ⚫️ ⚫️— Jonathan Pollock (@kingpollock) December 7, 2015
Pollock also revealed that Ash has begun contacting 2016 recruits.
WR Mo Jabbie (nephew of Rutgers great Mohamed Sanu) and K Alex Barbir both had good things to say as well.
New Rutgers HC seems to know what's he's doing and looks like he's gonna get them on the right path... Good phone call.— Barbir #8⃣ (@Alex_Barbir) December 8, 2015
There are still a couple of months until National Signing Day, so Ash has time to make an impact with the 2016 recruits, and seems to have made a good first impression on a couple of four-stars that Rutgers is pursuing.
#AshEra ⚫️— Fred Hansard (@Fred_Hansard56) December 7, 2015
Fight or flight I digg it !— KJ Sails Jr 9⃣‼️ (@KJ2LiVE) December 7, 2015
Reaction from fans
Rutgers fans, typically a very tough fanbase to please, seem to be fired up about the Ash hire as well.
I'll just say it-- Chris Ash is a freakin' stud.— Zuzu RU (@ZuzuFire108) December 7, 2015
Totally blown away with Chris Ash as new Rutgers FB coach. Smart, Focused, Accomplished. With PatHobbs as AD, there's a bright future T RU— Joe Demetor (@milltownj) December 7, 2015
Chris Ash is the man to restore pride to Piscataway. Great presser, he & new AD Pat Hobbs mean business.— snoring beagle (@RealTomDelgado) December 7, 2015
The fact that we have Chris ash as our new head coach really makes me excited for football season already— Amanda Reznik (@amanda_reznik) December 7, 2015
So far, so good. There hasn't been a lot of negativity to hear since the decision was made to bring Ash aboard. It's going to be interesting to see what he does with this program over the coming weeks and months.