Outside of Rutgers students, alums, athletes and fans, no one knows who is the new Rutgers football coach.
The new Rutgers football coach is Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash by the way.
There are no expectations of Ash for the first two seasons. He is building the program from the ground up. That means he is going to have to get his recruits and have them develop for the next few seasons.
Basically, he gets a pass for the first three seasons of his coaching career. This is what happens when the bar is low for Rutgers football. This is like the perfect opportunity for a coach learning on the job.
Patience is going to be needed.
Ash has made strides in developing relationships with high school coaches in New Jersey, especially with the parochial schools such as Don Bosco, Seton Hall Prep, St. Peter’s Prep and St. Joseph (Montvale). He hired Rick Mantz, former coach of Hillsborough High and South Brunswick, to be the high school relations director of the Rutgers football program, which is important since he has a great rapport with high school coaches in New Jersey.
Ash has to build on what former Rutgers coaches Greg Schiano and Kyle Flood did in recruiting players from the Garden State to play at Rutgers. He also needs to get players from New York. That will be the key to whether he succeeds or not as Rutgers head coach.
Ash must make getting a game-changing quarterback a priority. Enough of game-managing quarterbacks. He needs to find his next Braxton Miller, Connor Cook, J.T. Barrett for him to have success as coach.
Schiano relied too much on his defense and running game to win games. It was good enough to beat awful to mediocre teams, but against West Virginia and Louisville, it wasn’t enough. Yes, Mike Teel did lead Rutgers to an upset against then-No. 1 Louisville on a Thursday night nationally televised game, but that was the only high mark of Schiano’s tenure at Rutgers.
In a tough conference like the Big 10, getting a dynamic quarterback is a must.
Another thing Ash should strive to do is getting guys that are going to be tough in the trenches. They need to get linemen that will be physical and tough for the entire game on offense and defense. That has been a problem with Rutgers in recent years.
That’s where better coaching will have to come in play for the offensive linemen and defensive linemen to develop into tough players to go against.
It’s time for Rutgers to start acting like a big-time program by beating elite programs. They need to find a way. If Michigan State and Wisconsin can win their fair share of games against Michigan and Ohio State, so can Rutgers.
Ash has those intentions, and he should have or else he shouldn’t waste his time coaching at Rutgers.
If he can achieve these three objectives, he will have success at Piscataway.
Let’s not be in denial to think Rutgers will ever be Michigan or Ohio State. It’s just not going to happen. Unlike those two powerhouse football programs, Rutgers has strict admission policies, which players need to have a good GPA and standardized test scores to attend the university.
Rutgers should strive to be like Michigan State. That is building a fertile program for success. Develop players into good ones that can go to the NFL. Having this program ascending each year.
In other words, be respectable.
It’s not too much to ask from Ash and his staff. It’s what they are paid to do. It’s why they were hired.
The first few years should be interesting. It always is when a coach is making his mark on his football program.
For Ash, it’s about the process that results to the outcome.
By getting the right guys and coaching them up, Rutgers could be in a position to have success like Michigan State.
That’s what Rutgers should strive to be.
There Is no pressure to win the next three years, but the foundation has to be built now for a better tomorrow.
Ash has started the groundwork in his first few months on the job, but more work has to be done.
Saturday starts the hard work.