From now through September 3rd, I am posting a daily reason why it is great to be a fan of Rutgers football. There are a lot more than thirty, but I picked my thirty reasons, and hope you like them. If not, be sure to let me know.
If there is a common theme among the youth of the new coaching staff at Rutgers football, it is that they are savvy regarding social media. That is, except one. Defensive coordinator Jay Niemann is quiet and being-the-scenes when it comes to working with media. In fact early on his name was sometimes misspelled, being called Coach Riemann instead of Niemann, as he was by Associated Press reporter Matt Sugam.
Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Riemann said the plan to start is to run a 4-3 defense.— Matt Sugam (@MattSugam) January 12, 2016
While he was open when speaking with the press, it is done far less often than the rest of the staff. In the clip below, he described the linebacker situation as “a mess” last spring during practices, and noted that he has never faced a situation where he had to break in three linebackers at one time.
If you follow Coach Niemann as I do (@Coach Niemann), you will immediately notice that the coach is involved, but he re-tweets much more than he does posting his own thoughts. Not a problem with me. Niemann, along with coach Vince Okruch, are the veteran members of this year’s coaching staff. Most recently, Niemann has been the defensive coordinator for Northern Illinois, who has reached a bowl game for all five of the years he has led the defense, including a berth in the Orange Bowl in 2013.
Head Coach Chris Ash reached back into his own history to hire Jay Niemann. Niemann was defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Drake University when a young Chris Ash was a player on the Bulldog’s squad back in 1994-1995. Twenty years later, they have been reunited at Rutgers.
Want to know how he thinks? Below is a video profiling the coach soon after his arrival at his last stop, the Northern Illinois Huskies.
How does Jay feel about working for a former player who got his head coaching position as a defensive coordinator as well? We as he stated in a recent article on NJ.com by Ryan Dunleavy, it isn’t an unusual situation: "Every defensive coordinator has a head coach looking over his shoulder, whether he is defensive-minded or not. If you can't handle that, you probably are not in the right line of work. It won't be just him evaluating. It will be everyone that has a TV set or a stadium seat. That's just the nature of the beast."
But Ash made it clear: Jay Niemann heads the defense and plans to keep it that way.
From the start, Jay Niemann has stated that he expects his defense to be tough, aggressive, and physical. While every defensive coordinator would use that as their mantra, his focus on ensuring his players are sound in the fundamentals is an important cog that has been missing in the Rutgers defensive machine over the past few years. Soon after his arrival, Jay admitted to Keith Sargeant in an article that he had not spent much time looking at previous Rutgers game film. That may be considered a good thing.
It is clear, however, that Jay Niemann fits right in with Chris Ash’s philosophy, and in fact may have helped shape the head coach’s philosophy while serving as Ash’s coach when Ash was a player at Drake. For that, and all of the above, it is clear that Jay Niemann’s presence is yet another reason it is great to be a fan of Rutgers football!