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What point is it to keep Ash?

Leslie Monteiro

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Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs decided to retain beleaguered Rutgers football head coach Chris Ash for next season despite a horrible 1-11 campaign and 7-29 overall in his three forgettable seasons.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone since Ash received an extension last year that Rutgers was contractually obligated to give after the football program dealt with NCAA sanctions (self-imposed by the university) such as impermissible recruiting activities, and Rutgers won’t be paying $9.8 million to buy out his contract after this season, especially when the university is not getting the big payday from the Big Ten until 2020-2021.

What’s the point? Rutgers is delaying the inevitable rather than doing the right thing now and getting it over with. Next year will be another waste of a season, and when Rutgers hire a new coach, it will be another waste of season after Ash is gone since he needs his recruits for him to establish a program. How long can this go on?

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Ash has showed that he is the wrong guy for the job, and he has showed that there is no hope for him to get better as head coach after his three years of work. There’s no reason to keep this charade of hoping for the best. This is wasting time.

A major university in a Power Five conference would have fired Ash by now, but this is Rutgers where there are not enough boosters to foot the bill of firing the head coach. Rutgers is so cost-conscious. This is not how a football program should be run in a power conference such as the Big Ten.

It’s not just the losses that make Ash a bad fit for the job. He does not handle the media well. Recruiting, player development, discipline and game coaching have been awful under his watch. It’s the little things that he is not getting it right.

Ash and his staff have struggled to convince high school coaches in New York and New Jersey to get their players to come play for Rutgers. Most of the recruits would rather play elsewhere than play for Ash. If he couldn’t sell them in his first two years, he is not going to sell them now with this sorry state of the program, especially when he could be losing his job after next season.

Can anyone name a player that has developed under Ash’s watch? Didn’t think so. This is an indictment of a head coach that the recruits have never panned out. Either he and his staff are not coaching them well or they didn’t get the right players.

Rutgers often play dumb almost every game. They don’t play defense, and they can’t execute offensively. They commit so many penalties. The scores against their Big 10 opponents reflect all that.

Here’s Rutgers’ season in a nutshell: On fourth-and-goal with 6:03 to go in the third quarter against Penn State, Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno dropped an easy touchdown pass from Trey Sneed. That play was dubbed as the “Philly Special”. When a player can’t catch the ball, one has to wonder what exactly are Ash and his staff teaching at practice.

It’s hard to come up with anything about Ash doing well as Rutgers football coach. His defenses have been awful for the last three years, and defense was supposed to be his strength. No one knows what he does best since he has not showed any evidence of that. His teams have never been better at any point of the season. He has showed he can’t coach his team to a victory.

It’s discouraging the Scarlet Knights had one win this season. This is not where the program should be in Year 3. The thought was they were good enough to win five games this season. It’s hard to sell progress when they did not win a conference game this season. They shouldn’t have any business losing to dregs such as Indiana, Illinois and Maryland.

There’s no reason to be optimistic next season or even beyond that. There’s no reason to watch Rutgers football as long as Ash is coaching. After three seasons, what Rutgers fans see is what they get with him.

Look, we get it Ash inherited a program that had sanctions and the talent was barren. That said, he has had the last two years to show what he can do. His first two seasons were meh, and his third season was embarrassing.

Rutgers is wasting everyone’s time keeping Ash for next season. He is going to be fired eventually. It isn’t working out for everyone involved. There’s no point keeping a dead man walking.

Rutgers needs to act like a big-time program by not worrying about the length of a head coach’s contract before they fire him. They should follow this heed of never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

This was a chance to show everyone this is unacceptable and there will be consequences for this type of season. Instead, Rutgers is making it worse by keeping a head coach that is overmatched in his job.

Empty seats, terrible ratings, lack of recruits, many losses dictate Hobbs to do something.

Instead, he is doubling down on a coach that he hopes for the best while counting the years until his coach’s contract expires.

In other words, don’t expect things to get better anytime soon.

 

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.