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Fan base excited after installation of new director, coach

Opinion Column: The Morant

In case you have been living under a rock for the last week, Rutgers Athletics has undergone a major overhaul. Gone is former Athletic Director Julie Hermann and head football coach Kyle Flood, and in comes newly appointed Athletic Director Pat Hobbs and head football coach Chris Ash.

It was time for Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi to hit the restart button on the football program and the athletic director.

Julie Herman’s two-and-a-half years as the Rutgers athletic director has been a tumultuous tenure. She had been in the news for all of the wrong reasons, giving Rutgers Athletics even more of a bad reputation. Her job was to come in and stabilize an athletic department in flux after the Mike Rice incident, and she failed in her job of doing so.

Kyle Flood, by my estimation, was never a good head football coach. I have said it numerous times this year, as well as in a recent column. He was a nice guy and good in front of the media, but that does not translate to football wins. It was clear he had lost the locker room this season after the arrests in August and the split in the locker room on who should start as quarterback. After his three-game suspension and $50,000 fine, if he could not guide the team toward a bowl, it was obvious that his Rutgers coaching career would come to a screeching halt.

Like I’ve said, in 2012 he was given a very good team by the former head coach, Greg Schiano. His first season in the Big Ten was an acceptable one, but one thing remained constant in the second season: the blowout losses to top-tier teams demonstrated the talent difference, which also fell poorly on his recruiting ability.

So Barchi pressed the refresh button on Friday, although it was not made official until Sunday. He hired the former dean of the Seton Hall University School of Law, Pat Hobbs, who was also a one-time interim athletic director at Seton Hall. While in charge, he changed the philosophy of the school’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.

As of now from the eye test, Hobbs seems to be a good fit for the Scarlet Knights. In his press conference, he gave all of the right answers about what Rutgers sports fans would like to see, but it was his two top priorities that stood out to me: to find a new head football coach and to fundraise.

Well, he has completed his top priority by hiring Chris Ash, a former co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Ohio State University.

Chris Ash is a 41-year-old, which is young for a head coach by all accounts. This season, his defense ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (14 points per game) and 10th in total defense (303.5 yards per game), something Rutgers saw first hand at home on Oct. 24.

It does not hurt that he has been under Urban Meyer, who is known to produce great head coaches that have worked under him as a coordinator or positional coach, most notably Dan Mullen, Tom Herman, Charlie Strong and Kyle Wittingham, to name a few. Ash had also worked under Brett Bielema at Arkansas, and Wisconsin as defensive coordinator.

Personally, I felt like Hobbs hit a home-run with Ash. I was looking for a young head coach with a defensive-minded game, and Ash fits both of those aspects.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have been angry with any of the selections out of the rumored candidates for the job.

Ash, Schiano, Al Golden and Mario Cristobal were all fine candidates for me, and I think they all would have done a better job than what Kyle Flood had provided. But this new hire reminds me of another hire that Rutgers made 14 years ago in 2001, hiring a young defensive coordinator from a powerhouse school in Miami, Florida. That man was Schiano, and he did a pretty good job righting the ship on an awful football program at the time, taking it to national attention for the right reasons.

Will the same happen with Ash? Time will tell, but I don’t expect a turnaround to immediately rise from the ashes.

Hobbs also talked about his second priority, fundraising, which is something Hermann was awful at. As a politically minded man, Hobbs will hopefully help to gain extra revenue that will result in upgraded facilities and further the University's athletic programs.

After a future that was looking bleaker by the moment on Saturday, Nov. 28 after blowing a 21-point lead to an awful football team, Maryland, two decisions made by Barchi have the fan base excited once again.

Ryan Moran is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and economics. His column, “The Morant,” runs on alternate Fridays.

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