And maybe, what he did say when asked to deliver a message to those disgruntled fans, is true: It isn’t easy to turn Rutgers into a winner. It’s going to take time — a lot of time — to do it right.
Nobody wants to hear that now. Nobody wants to get told that they need to be patient after the kind of loss that casts everything about this program in doubt — and that starts with the head coach.
“We came here. We had a plan,” Ash said after his Scarlet Knights cemented their place as the nation’s worst Power 5 team. “There are a lot of things that go into turning around a program, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
“Sometimes these things take four, five, even six years. I’ve seen it when I was at Iowa State — it was our sixth year when we went to a bowl game. We’re not trying to wait that long. We want to win as fast as we can. But we want to do it the right way.”
He sounded a little like an auctioneer — five years? do I have six? seven? do I have eight? sold! — as he rattled through that time frame. But if he really thinks he’s getting six years with the way his team performed on Saturday afternoon, he’s delusional.
Plenty of fans don’t want him on that sideline for another six minutes after this performance. Rutgers was completely unprepared to play against a team that has four Power 5 victories in the last eight seasons, embarrassed by a program that snapped a 46-game road losing streak just last week.
Kansas had 400 yards rushing on 48 carries, an 8.3 yard-per-rush clip, despite having no balance with one of the nation’s worst pass offenses. The Jayhawks scored twice on 50-yard runs in the fourth quarter when there wasn’t a single Rutgers defender around to lay a hand on the running back.
Again: Ash is a defensive coach. This is where he was supposed to put his stamp on this program. This is why athletic director Patrick Hobbs plucked him off the Ohio State staff two and a half years ago. How does this Rutgers defense get so exposed against a bad team like that?
“We are really hurting for depth on defense. It was a hot day,” Ash said. “The reps started to pile up. We’ve got no one else to play. It’s who we are. It’s what it is. We had guys that were cramping, but that’s no excuse.”
He’s right about that last part.
I’m not sure where Rutgers goes from here. Ash is not going anywhere, not with five years and $9.8 million on his contract. The team still has several winnable games on its schedule, starting Buffalo next week in Piscataway. The idea that this team will reach a bowl now is LOL-level funny, but it can salvage something in the short term.
In the long term, however, it’s getting harder to believe that Ash is up to the challenge of building a winner in Piscataway. This game felt like a litmus test to see where his program stands in his third season, and not only did Rutgers fail, but it failed in humiliating fashion.
“Nobody said it was going to happen overnight,” Ash said. “We’ve got a lot of young players that are playing right now. We’ve got to get those as good as we can as fast as we can. We’ve got to evaluate everything we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.”
Again: Nobody is asking for anything overnight. Ash inherited a mess from predecessor Kyle Flood. But this is Year 3. If Kansas has better athletes, if Kansas runs you off the field, what will Penn State, Michigan and the rest do later in the season?
That’s the one area where Ash faces a bigger challenge than any coach in Rutgers history. But he also has more advantages — the new weight room, the new practice fields, the new locker rooms that are coming — and still hasn’t recruited the athletes to compete with Kansas.
That’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to put Penn State or Michigan in that sentence. Kansas, yes Kansas, had better athletes than Rutgers did on Saturday, and that’s a jarring reality.
“We’ve got to get better,” Ash said. “Again, I’m sitting here telling you, nobody said this was going to be easy. This is a tough turnaround. For anybody that’s frustrated more than me, I’d like to see it. I’m frustrated. But I also know we’re going to keep working.”
That’s all he can do now. Ash has to find a way to salvage something out of this season, and it starts with its next winnable game at home against a pretty good Buffalo team.
For now, for better and for worse, Ash and Rutgers are married. His third season is on the brink of disaster. He needs to salvage something from the Kansas wreckage in the coming weeks to win over a fan base that is on the brink of completely abandoning him now.
Building a winner at Rutgers is hard. But this?
Source : https://www.nj.com/rutgersfootball/index.ssf/2018/09/the_clock_is_ticking_on_chris_ash_as_rutgers_hits.html