Chris Ash relieved of head coaching duties, Campanile named interim coach
After the Rutgers football team finished last season 1-11, its worst record since 2002 as member of the Big East Conference in Greg Schiano's second year as head coach, Athletics Director Pat Hobbs sent out a memo to University students in mid-November, amid continuous frustration around the team on the field that head coach Chris Ash had put out.
"Over the course of the season, I have heard from alumni, donors and fans who expressed their frustration with the results on game day," Hobbs said on Nov. 28, 2018 in a letter sent to students' Scarlet emails. "Those calls came in loud and clear. Many were quite colorful. This was a disappointing football season for all of us – Coach Ash, myself, our athletes, our students and you, our loyal supporters. We had a goal and failed to achieve it."
Hobbs has seen this frustration manifest itself into 2019. A third of the season in, a day after No. 20 Michigan's 52-0 rout of the Scarlet Knights (1-3, 0-2), Ash was relieved of his duties along with offensive coordinator John McNulty, who has been on his staff since last year.
Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile, who was the head coach at Bergen Catholic, a powerhouse football program in New Jersey for seven years starting in 2010, will take over immediately as interim head coach and offensive coordinator.
For Campanile, this marks his first-ever head coaching role in any capacity throughout his career. He previously was the running backs coach in 2018 before switching to coach tight ends this season.
Before arriving at Bergen Catholic, Campanile was the offensive coordinator with its rival, Don Bosco Prep. There, he coached two notable alumni in wideout Leonte Carroo and quarterback Gary Nova.
The move to fire Ash had been planned two weeks ago, in between Rutgers' first bye and its second home game against Boston College, according to Brett McMurphy, an analyst with Stadium. The Board of Trustees had "met to finalize & approve financial responsibilities by firing Ash," McMurphy said in a tweet on Sunday.
Since the Knights' inception into the Big Ten five years ago, they have seen two coaching changes. Kyle Flood was previously ousted in 2015 amid a scandal in which he made unprofessional contact with a professor to change a student athlete's grade in a course.
"We appreciate Chris's dedicated efforts on behalf of our football program, our department and our University," Hobbs said, according to a press release. "Progress has been achieved in many areas, but, unfortunately, that progress has not been realized on the field of play."
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