Rutgers Athletics hosts town hall event with Pat Hobbs, Chris Ash
Rutgers Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs and head football coach Chris Ash have been asked hard-hitting questions since the day they were chosen to succeed Julie Hermann and Kyle Flood as Rutgers' athletic director and head football coach.
But for the first time, they were questioned directly by those filling the seats at High Point Solution Stadium on Busch campus on Saturdays in the fall.
Rutgers Athletics hosted a town hall meeting between Hobbs, Ash and the student body at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus on Wednesday.
The town hall addressed multiple concerns among the student body, ranging from keeping top New Jersey recruits at home to what uniforms the Scarlet Knights will don on Saturdays.
The questions were answered with enthusiasm as both men urged the student body to become more involved with the University’s athletic programs.
“What I know (the students in the room) are going to bring, along with your fellow students, is an incredible student experience at the game. That’s what we’re missing,” Hobbs said in his opening statement. “We need that to come back because whether it’s in football and you’re the 12th man, or in basketball where you’re the sixth man, you’re an incredibly important part of our success.”
The event began with Rutgers University Student Assembly President Matt Panconi introducing the men.
Panconi, a Rutgers Business School senior, was followed by Hobbs and Ash leading both sides of the room into an “R-U” chant.
Following the chant, Hobbs addressed the crowd with his ambitions for the program.
Hobbs said the errors that tarnished the Rutgers name in the national eye are a thing of the past, and from this point on, attending the University will be a source of pride for its students rather than one of embarrassment.
“All the negative stories that were out there, you go home and someone says, 'Hey, don’t you go to Rutgers University? … aren’t you embarrassed,'” Hobbs said. “We’re going to eliminate all that. You’re going to go home and you’re going to say, ‘that was incredible, I watched your game. What an incredible finish.’”
Ash followed Hobbs before the event shifted to a question and answer section.
The biggest concern surrounding the football program entering the fall is the multiple issues it faced in 2015.
Ash was asked about the tumultuous season the program went through last year, in which the Knights went 4-8 on the field — including a 1-7 in Big Ten play — and had seven players arrested off it, and how he looked to improve on the culture of the program.
The former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator vehemently defended his new team.
Ash acknowledged last year was a bad year for the program, but he pointed to the success it has seen in the past 10 to 15 years to show the positive side of the program.
“There have been a lot of tremendous things accomplished here at Rutgers with this football team. I don’t want one bad year to change the perception of Rutgers football,” he said. “We’re going to have accountability in our program, we’re going to have discipline in our program.”
For a majority of its history, Rutgers was not looked at as an athletic powerhouse.
Hobbs and his new administration are looking to change that.
“We all hear these things that say 'at Rutgers it never happens.' Stop it," Hobbs said. "You’re tired of hearing of the sleeping giant, as am I, but I’m also tired of hearing that just doesn’t happen here at Rutgers. Screw that. Let’s make it happen here at Rutgers.”
Brian Fonseca is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies. He is the sports editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @briannnnf for updates on the Rutgers football team.