Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 7, 2015

Rutgers recently hired a new A.D. Now, the school has hired a new coach in Chris Ash to replace Kyle Flood.

[ MORE: Watch the Rutgers press conference live at 1:30 p.m. ET on BTN2Go ]

Ash is one of the nation?s rising defensive minds, looking to improve the fortunes of a Rutgers program that went 4-8 overall, 1-7 in the Big Ten last year.

Ash will face challenges navigating a rugged Big Ten East, but he won?t inherit a full-on rebuilding job. There is talent to work with as players like QB Chris Laviano, RBs Josh Hicks and Robert Martin, WRs Janarion Grant and Andre Patton, DT Darius Hamilton and LB Steve Longa, among others, are expected to be back for a program that went to nine bowls in 10 games prior to this season?s fall.

Rutgers remains a work in progress as it continues to transition to the Big Ten. Flood, 44, took over for highly successful Greg Schiano in 2012. After Schiano bolted to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Flood was promoted from Schiano?s staff-which he joined in 2005–but was unable to build on what Schiano started in 2001 and continued for 11 seasons. Flood took the Scarlet Knights to bowls in each of his first three seasons, going 8-5 with a victory over Michigan and a bowl win during Rutgers? inaugural Big Ten run in 2014. But the bottom fell out this season.

Enter Ash, who looks to quell the waters after Flood endured a rocky 2015 season that was cloaked in controversy. He came under scrutiny before the season began for an email he sent to a faculty member inquiring about a member of his team. Coaches had been told not to directly contact faculty concerning academic matters. After an investigation, Flood subsequently was suspended for three games. Things went downhill from there.

Flood?s program also saw a spat of player arrests in 2015. Six players were booted off the squad in a two-week span following arrests. Among those in trouble was the team?s most high-profile player, wideout Leonte Carroo, who dealt with an arrest and suspension. Add it all up, and it wasn?t a smooth season for Rutgers, which capped 2015 with a dubious 46-41 home loss to Maryland in which the Scarlet Knights blew a 31-13 halftime lead.

Ash brings a nice resume to Piscataway. He arrived in Columbus prior to 2014 and is largely credited with improving Ohio State?s defense by injecting an aggressive style and improving the pass defense.

How far had the Buckeye pass defense fallen prior to Ash? It was 112th in the nation in 2013, 83rd in pass efficiency defense and 47th in total defense. A year later, the Buckeyes were national champs with national rankings of 13th in pass efficiency, 19th in total defense and 29th against the pass. In addition, the Buckeyes ranked fourth nationally with 24 interceptions, a total that is topped by only one previous Ohio State team.

Ash, 41, arrived in Columbus from Arkansas, where he was defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 2013 under Bret Bielema. Prior to that, Ash was with Bielema at Wisconsin, running the defense in 2011-12. He also has coached at Iowa State and Drake, his alma mater. Now, Ash looks to make his mark at Rutgers.


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