Rutgers Coach Chris Ash at Big Ten Media Day Part 2

CHICAGO -- In the second part of coach Chris Ash's Big Ten Media Day session, the first-year Rutgers head coach explains why recruiting is improved under his guidance and the "bomb" he threw in the quarterback room.

Rutgers coach Chris Ash On hiring offensive line coach AJ Blazek...

I've watched his career, and I watched him grow and develop and continue to rise in the coaching field. Through my research and talking to people that he has worked with, I think he's a rising star. That's really the profile I was looking for when I was creating the staff at Rutgers. I wanted high-energy, high-level guys that were going to be able to connect and relate to the players and get the most out of them. AJ has done that.”

On staying away from assistants with prior head-coaching experience...

I did not ever once consider it. I was given some advice, actually by Urban, when I first went to Ohio State. Staff alignment is so important. Organizational alignment is so important. I have a way that I want business to be done. I don't want “yes men” in our program. I want guys who have thoughts in our program and help me learn and grow also. I do want them to do things a certain way. I feel when you hire younger guys, energetic guys that aren't set in their ways, it's easier to get that alignment than it is hiring older, experienced guys, especially head coaches. Can you gain value from those guys? Absolutely. But everybody manages their organization differently and that's the way we decided to go.”

On Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano...

Inconsistent would be the best word to describe it. That's why we did what we did by bringing in Zach. We had to get guys to be more consistent in their play. We had to get guys to be more consistent in their leadership, more consistent in their commitment to being the best that they can be in terms of film study and the weight room and just training overall. All of those things were inconsistent and we have to get that changed. That was the reason that we brought Zach in is we tried to basically throw a bomb in the room and get guys to change.”

On Rescigno, Dare and Oden and keeping six scholarship quarterbacks happy...

You can't. We'll give everybody an opportunity to get out there and take snaps from the center and show what they can do in our offense. Are all six guys going to get reps with the ones? No, not a chance. But it's our job to be able to filter through it very quickly and identify who can give us a chance to go out and win. Throughout the course of the summer, some of those thoughts and ideas have been formulated by how they worked in the weight room and, honestly, this summer they probably made it even more challenging because they have stepped up to the plate and done a good job.”

On differences in recruiting and improvement...

The first thing is we're a part of the Big Ten. Back when coach [Greg] Schiano was there, he got some really good players. He struggled to keep some players. If a player wanted to go play at the highest level possible, they left. That's what they had to do because Rutgers wasn't in the Big Ten. Now Rutgers is in the Big Ten. If you want to play in the best conference in college football, you don't have to leave your home state. The second part of that is the culture you create in your building. Why do players want to go to a certain program? Because they know they're going to get developed. They know they're going to be taken care of. There's going to be a chance to have success on the field, off the field in life after football. If we can create those things, why not do it in front of your friends and your family?

Challenges of recruiting in the Big Ten East...

Recruiting is a competitive part of this game and it's non-stop whether you're a head coach or an assistant. The difference probably as a head coach is that you have to hold others accountable to go out and recruit at a high level whereas as an assistant, you just went and did your job and you hope that everybody else did their job. As a head coach you have to not only recruit and be an active participant in the process but you have to hold others accountable.

On support from New Jersey high schools...

I think we've been able to establish really good relationships with the high school coaches in New Jersey. We've gone out and had coaches socials around the state. We've brought coaches on our campus several times to help establish relationships with them. I think the thing that's helped us the most, just like in recruiting, what's helped us the most in relationships with high school coaches is how we're developing their players. Their players show up into our building, they get coached really hard, their bodies are changing and they're having fun. When that happens, they go out and they talk in their schools. They talk to their coaches. They talk to the recruits. The coaches, whether they wanted to support you or not are like, 'what's going on at Rutgers? Let's go check it out.' And they're liking what they're seeing so far.”

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