Ranking coaches in the B1G can be a pretty easy task. It’s easy to place a number beside a guy, failing to give any reasoning behind his placement on a “power rankings,” list.
At Saturday Tradition, though, we don’t want to just give you the rankings. We want to provide you with a detailed description of each head coach and why he’s ranked in his selected spot.
This was a practice that was kicked up from the ground last year and, since there’s still several months until football season gets underway, it’s worth revisiting. So, let’s get the 2017 #B1GCoachRank underway:
Coach: No. 14 Chris Ash (Rutgers)
Record: 2-10 (0-9 B1G)
Record vs. top 25: 0-4
Where team was when he was hired: It’s not really fair to say that Rutgers was in shambles when Ash inherited the program a year ago, but it was in disarray at the end of the Kyle Flood era.
The Scarlet Knights had some moderate success on the field but arrests, academic scandals and other issues really prohibited the team’s growth. So, it was Ash’s job to clean up some of that mess, particularly off the field.
Ash was able to get a lot of things straightened out off the field, but the team struggled mightily on the gridiron. Rutgers finished the year 2-10, didn’t post a conference victory and were blown out of most contests in the season. Issues at quarterback and an injury that left Janarion Grant sidelined for most of the season were major contributing factors to the struggles in 2016.
It’s safe to say that Ash has the program headed in a better direction, but there’s still a long way to go before Rutgers is competitive with some of the big dogs of the B1G East.
Biggest win: Sept. 17, 2016 vs. New Mexico
Well, there were only two to choose from, so the Scarlet Knights’ 37-28 win over the Lobos and the only victory against an FBS opponent is the easy choice.
If it weren’t for the win over New Mexico, the lone triumph would’ve come over FCS foe Howard.
Most embarrassing loss: Oct. 8, 2016 vs. Michigan
It was a night Chris Ash, his staff, the players, the athletic department, the fans, and anyone ever associated with Rutgers football would love to forget. You don’t have to look further than Ash’s postgame press conference to understand that.
The Scarlet Knights were outmatched in every aspect against the Wolverines and were pummeled 78-0 in front of a home crowd. And what’s worse? Michigan didn’t even look as if it was running up the score.
Rutgers gained just 39 yards for the game, completed just two passes and picked up just two first downs. Michigan, on the other hand, totaled 600 yards of offense, with 481 coming on the ground. It was easily one of the most lopsided college football games in history.
Best recruiting class: 2017
Ash did pretty well with his first full recruiting class, bringing in 26 total prospects and three four-star players. From 2014 to 2016, the Scarlet Knights had three total four-star recruits.
Micah Clark, Bo Melton and Tyshon Fogg will likely jump into important roles for the Knights when they arrive on campus. Getting big-time players early playing time could help improve Rutgers’ appeal to future prospects.
Rutgers’ 2016 class ranked 43rd overall according to 247 Sports and was ninth-best in the B1G. Ash’s first full class is becomes the first time the program has cracked the top 50 nationally since 2013.
The 2017 class is a pretty stable foundation as Ash continues to turn Rutgers into a suitable landing spot for some of those highly-prized recruits.
What could get him fired: Rutgers’ performance on the field wasn’t exactly what people had expected from Ash in his first season. But, it’s hard to imagine a situation where Ash doesn’t make it to at least 2018, unless some sort of off-the-field issue looms.
Sure, the Knights were 2-10 and looked outmatched in every contest – even against some of the worst teams in the B1G – but with the return of Janarion Grant, a few four-star prospects coming aboard and Jerry Kill on staff running the offense, there’s the possibility for a pretty bright future in Piscataway.
Even if Rutgers has similar results in 2017, Ash should be around next fall.
Why he’s at No. 14: Honestly, it’s probably more of a ‘victim of circumstance’ type of thing than his struggles as a head coach. Unfortunately, Rutgers had a really bad year and looked terrible on the field. That’s why he’s at the bottom.
It doesn’t help that Tom Allen, P.J. Fleck and Jeff Brohm bring some pretty solid credentials to the B1G as first-year head coaches, making life in the conference even tougher.
You can argue that it’s not fair to have Ash at the bottom, especially with three guys coming in who haven’t coached a B1G game yet. But Ash will have the opportunity to move up this list for next season. And with that recruiting class he brought in, he just jump a few places.
No. 14 Chris Ash (Rutgers)
No. 13 TBA