When Chris Ash took over the head coaching job at Rutgers, he inherited quite a mess. There was a string of off-field issues and on-field inconsistencies that hindered a program trying to find its place in the B1G.
Ash needed to completely demolish the program and build it back from scratch. Nobody thought the process was going to be easy. Nobody thought it was going to be quite this difficult, either.
Rutgers is coming off a 1-11 season, failing to win a single B1G game. It’s the second time in Ash’s three seasons that the Scarlet Knights couldn’t notch a conference victory. And it’s simply unacceptable, even for a program still in the rebuilding stage.
President Ricahrd Barchi has fielded a boatload of questions regarding the future of Rutgers Athletics, as it continues to pour money into new facilities and other avenues to help grow its athletic products. While Barchi is still supportive of Ash, he also made it clear that a season like the 2018 campaign is unacceptable.
“Certainly a 1-11 season can’t be considered a success,” Barchi told NJ Advance Media.
“I think Chris had a difficult task. He had a lot of players decommit or move on at a time when he also had to go out and recruit against NCAA sanctions and a bunch of other headwinds. Football, as you know, takes time. It’s not as easy to turn a football program around because you need not just one or two key players. So I’m not sure if we can measure that success in a couple of years.”
Rutgers is 7-29 in three seasons under Ash with a 3-24 mark in B1G play. All three of those conference victories came in 2018, when the Scarlet Knights finished 4-8 — by far the most successful year since Ash took over in Piscataway.
Barchi is hoping this is the year the Scarlet Knights start to see more success on the field, even after one of the worst seasons the program has experienced.
“We’ll be very excited about seeing what the coach brings to the field this year,” Barchi said. “We really are looking forward to some improvement this year.”
Ash has repeatedly said that the process of rebuilding Rutgers into a competitor in the B1G could take five, six or even seven years, a statement that doesn’t sit well with the fan base. But as expectations continue to grow, Ash may not get to years five, six or seven if his team doesn’t begin to show signs of growth.
Rutgers opens the 2019 season on Friday, Aug. 30 at home against UMass.