30th head coach in the  146-year history of the Scarlet Knights football team, Chris Ash.


Chris Ash, a defensive coordinator during the better part of his 19-year collegiate coaching career, is the 30th head coach in the 146-year history of the Scarlet Knights football team.

courtesy of Rutgers Athletics Communications/Ben Solomon

Chris Ash has spent all of his adult life, he says, dreaming of the moment when he would be named to run a major football program. That day may have arrived sooner than he anticipated, but he’s more than ready: on December 7, Ash was named the 30th head coach in the 146-year history of the Scarlet Knights football team. 

Ash, 42, who had been a co-defensive coordinator for The Ohio State University (OSU) football team helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship, replaces Kyle Flood, who compiled a 27-24 record during four seasons and led the Scarlet Knights to three bowl appearances.

“When I was asked what I was looking for in a new coach,” says Patrick Hobbs, the athletic director at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, “I said our next coach has to be a great ambassador for our university, someone who can lead young men, and someone who will get our fans hopeful and excited again about Rutgers football. I found that person in Chris Ash.”

Ash, who has 19 years of collegiate coaching experience, has an ample résumé. He was hired by Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in January 2014 to improve a Buckeye defense that was 112th in pass defense and 47th in defense nationally in 2013. In his first season, OSU’s defense improved to 29th in pass defense and 19th in total defense. Last year the OSU defense was even better, ranking third in scoring defense nationally and 10th in total defense as the Buckeyes compiled an 11-1 regular season record. Before Ohio State, Ash had been a defensive coordinator at his alma mater, Drake University, as well as at Iowa State, San Diego State, the University of Arkansas, and the University of Wisconsin.

“I want to build a first-class program here, a program that the university, the state of New Jersey, high school coaches, and high school players can be proud to say is theirs and they want to come here and be a part of it,” Ash said during a press conference to introduce him. “I want to build a fast, physical team that plays with relentless effort, tremendous enthusiasm, and plays for each other. I want our opponents to turn on the game film and say, ‘You know what? This is a real one.’”

Success won’t come overnight, although Ash, who signed a five-year contract, is off to a fast start, having already selected his new coaching staff. It’s all part of his intention to create a culture of accountability for everyone associated with the sports program. “Our mission statement ... won’t include anything about wins. It won’t include anything about championships. It’s going to include and talk about the environment we’re going to create to develop these players mentally, physically, and spiritually to reach their full potential and to be successful in life after football. And if we can get that done, the wins will come.”