PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers University Director of Athletics Patrick Hobbs announced today that Chris Ash has been named head coach of the Scarlet Knights' football program. 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 B1G Championships.
The 41-year old Ash currently serves as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at The Ohio State University and helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship.
"Chris Ash is absolutely the right coach at the right time for Rutgers football," Hobbs said. "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."
Ash becomes the 30th head coach in Rutgers' 146-year history of college football. While he will begin many of his duties immediately, he will remain on staff at Ohio State through the Buckeyes' Fiesta Bowl game against Notre Dame.
"I have been fortunate to learn the game of football from so many great coaches and mentors who have prepared me for this incredible opportunity," said Ash. "There are so many wonderful things about Rutgers University and our state that we will build a program which can compete in a very difficult Big Ten Conference. I want to thank President Barchi and Pat Hobbs for the opportunity of a lifetime."
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 as they currently rank second in scoring defense nationally and 10th-best in total defense. The Buckeyes enter the postseason with an 11-1 record.
"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," said Rutgers President Robert Barchi.
"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," Barchi said.
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).
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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.
The 2007 and 2008 seasons Ash spent 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.
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 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.