Rutgers fires coach Chris Ash after big loss to Michigan

Rutgers head coach Chris Ash watches in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rutgers head coach Chris Ash watches in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The first head coach firing of the 2019 college football season has happened.

Rutgers fired Chris Ash on Sunday, a day after the Scarlet Knights lost 52-0 at Michigan on Saturday. Rutgers is 1-3 in 2019 and Ash has a career record of 8-32 with the team.

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"We appreciate Chris’s dedicated efforts on behalf of our football program, our department and our university,” athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “This change is especially difficult because of the steadfast commitment that Chris and his family have made to our student-athletes. Progress has been achieved in many areas, but, unfortunately, that progress has not been realized on the field of play. As such, it is in the best interest of the program to make a change.”

Offensive coordinator John McNulty has also been fired. The team’s interim coach will be tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile, who joined the team in 2018. The former coach at New Jersey high school power Bergen Catholic, Campanile was the team’s running backs coach last season.

Ash was hired from Ohio State

Ash was hired to replace Kyle Flood after Flood was fired following the 2015 season. Things haven’t gone well. The best season in Ash’s three-plus-year tenure came in 2017 when the Scarlet Knights were 4-8. Rutgers dropped to 1-11 in 2018 and have been outscored 112-16 in three-straight losses to Iowa, Boston College and Michigan.

Ash came to Rutgers after spending five seasons as a defensive assistant under Urban Meyer at Ohio State.

Rutgers has struggled since joining the Big Ten

The Scarlet Knights were a prime candidate for the Big Ten when the conference expanded because of its location in New Jersey. But football success has been hard to come by. The team’s only winning season while a member of the Big Ten came in 2014 when Flood’s team was 8-5. In the more than four years since, Rutgers is 12-40 overall and has gone just 4-33 in Big Ten play.

Those struggles mean that Rutgers isn’t exactly an attractive job. While the school has a head start on its “national” coaching search by firing Ash before the month of October arrived, it isn’t going to be operating from a big position of power either. Based on the school’s brief history in the Big Ten, making a bowl game will be a momentous achievement. Who could the Knights go after? Rivals’ The Knight Report has a list of potential candidates to be the next full-time head coach in Piscataway.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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