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Head coach Chris Ash introduced his coaching staff at the Hale Center. (Photos by Alex Goodlett)
A new era begins for the Birthplace of College Football as Chris Ash takes over as the 30th head coach in the 147-year history of Rutgers football.
A coach with national championship pedigree, Ash arrives “On the Banks,” with nearly two decades of collegiate coaching experience, including five years in the Big Ten Conference (four as a defensive coordinator) with four Big Ten Championships.
Release: Chris Ash Named Head Football Coach at Rutgers | Press Conference Quotes
The 42-year-old Ash served as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State and helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship.
In his five seasons as a defensive coordinator, Ash pioneered four groups ranked in the top 25 statistically, including a top-10 defensive unit in 2015. As the defense coordinator at Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012, the Badgers put together back-to-back seasons ranked 15th overall in total defense. The 2011 squad was 13th in scoring defense while the 2012 team turned in a 17th-place ranking.
Ash was hired by Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in January 2014 to improve a Buckeye defense that placed 112th in pass defense and 47th in total defense in 2013. In his first season, OSU's defense ranked 19th nationally in total defense and 29th in pass defense. The Buckeyes also ranked fourth in the country with 24 interceptions en route to Big Ten, Sugar Bowl and national championships.
In 2015, the Ohio State defense continued its strides under Ash, ranking second in scoring defense nationally and ninth-best in total defense. The Buckeyes earned a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, finishing the season with a 12-1 record after defeating Notre Dame in the bowl game.
The 2016 NFL Draft saw numerous players from Ash’s defensive unit selected, including the first overall defensive player in Joey Bosa, who was picked third by the San Diego Chargers. In all, the draft featured six defensive players taken from Ohio State with three in the first round.
Prior to taking over the OSU defense, Ash held the defensive coordinator post and coached the secondary at the University of Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference in 2013 under head coach Bret Bielema. He helped improve Arkansas' pass defense in his one season in Fayetteville, with the Razorbacks' defense finishing 72nd nationally in passing yards allowed after ranking 113th in 2012.
Ash was first promoted to the defensive coordinator role in the Big Ten while at the University of Wisconsin, where he spent three seasons with the Badgers. His 2011 defense led the Big Ten (conference games only) in total defense and pass defense efficiency, and it ranked fourth nationally in fewest passing yards allowed (163.6), 13th in scoring (19.0) and 15th in total defense (316.4). In 2012, the UW defense ranked 15th nationally in total defense (322.5), 17th in scoring (19.1), 18th in fewest passing yards allowed (193.6), 22nd in pass efficiency and 24th against the run (128.9).
Ash began his coaching career as a defensive graduate assistant at his alma mater, Drake University, in 1997. He was promoted to defensive coordinator for the next two seasons before moving on to Iowa State University in 2000. Ash spent eight seasons over two different stints in Ames, including the 2009 season, during which current Houston head coach Tom Herman was also on the staff. Ash progressed from graduate assistant with the Cyclones in 2000-01 to defensive backs coach for a total of six seasons.
Ash spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons at San Diego State University as the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Chuck Long.
Ash has produced numerous instructional videos, including a three-video series -- "Aggressive 4-3 Defense" -- that includes shutting down the passing game and stuffing the run segments. He has coached 34 different players that have gone on to sign NFL contracts.
A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Ash earned his undergraduate degree from Drake in 1996, and was a two-time letterwinner at defensive back for the Bulldogs. He is one of three from that era of Drake football to become a FBS head coach, joining Dave Doeren (NC State) and Charlie Partridge (Florida Atlantic). Ash completed his master's degree in education from Iowa State in 2005.
Ash and his wife, Doreen, are the parents of a young son, Brady. Ash also has a son, Tanner, and a daughter, Jacey.
What they're saying about Chris Ash...
"Chris Ash is absolutely the right coach at the right time for Rutgers football. He brings with him a national reputation for his coaching and recruiting abilities and, more importantly, for his character and leadership. We could not be more excited to welcome Chris and his family to our Rutgers family."
- Patrick Hobbs, Rutgers Director of Athletics
"Chris Ash has a proven track record in the Big Ten and has earned the respect and praise of his student-athletes, his colleagues and his opponents. He is committed to excellence on the playing field and in the classroom, and he is a disciplined, detailed and focused leader, I am thrilled that Chris will lead our football program as we begin a new chapter in our athletics' history."
- Robert Barchi, Rutgers University President
"I would like to congratulate Chris Ash on 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. 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."
- Urban Meyer, Ohio State head coach
"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."
- Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin Director of Athletics
"Very excited for Chris and the opportunity he has at Rutgers and in the Big Ten Conference. 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."
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas Head Coach
"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. 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."
- Dave Doeren, NC State Head Coach
"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."
- Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic Head Coach
"There are certain guys you can tell right away that have it, and Chris Ash is a guy that fits into that category. At every stop along the way, Chris has been a successful recruiter, even at places where he didn’t have the type of resources he inherits at Rutgers. Chris has a genuine way of connecting on the recruiting trail that few can match. Recruits and their families love his passion, charisma and integrity. High School coaches like how he can talk Xs and Os. With Chris, it’s not fake or forced. It’s not a sale’s pitch. It’s real."
- Jeremy Crabtree, ESPN Recruiting Nation, Senior Writer
"Chris was on the fast track to be a head coach when I hired him. I knew it wouldn't take long because he has great knowledge of the game, he's a good teacher and tireless recruiter. A great hire for Rutgers!"
- Chuck Long, former San Diego State head coach and current Big Ten Network analyst
The Ash File
Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
Alma Mater: Drake, 1996
Master's Degree: Iowa State, 2005
Children: Sons, Tanner and Brady; Daughter, Jacey
|2014-15||Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties||Ohio State|
|2011-12||Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs||Wisconsin|
|2009||Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator||Iowa State|
|2007-08||Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator||San Diego State|
|2006||Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator||Iowa State|
|2002-05||Defensive Backs||Iowa State|
|2000-01||Graduate Assistant - Defense||Iowa State|
Bowl Games as Coach (12)
2016 Fiesta Bowl*
2015 National Championship Game*
2015 Sugar Bowl*
2012 Rose Bowl
2011 Rose Bowl
2010 Rose Bowl
2009 Insight Bowl*
2005 Houston Bowl
2004 Independence Bowl*
2002 Humanitarian Bowl
2001 Independence Bowl
2000 Insight Bowl*
* - denotes win
Big Ten Championships (4)
2014 Ohio State
A two-time letterwinner (1994-95) at Drake as a defensive back.