NJ.com- Now, it is all streamlined and neat, and without question, more impressive. The gray paint on the walls, Ash said, made the place "feel like a prison," so that has all been replaced with a plain white.
"A lot of the stuff in here is old. It's old, and it needs to change, and we're working on it now."
"Everybody thinks that the facility here is outstanding. I'll tell you: It's not," Ash said during a wide-ranging interview as the sun rose last Thursday. "Just look around. This is not on par with what Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State have.
"Is it on par with Boston College, Temple, Syracuse and UConn? Yeah, but we don't play those teams any more."
Some of this is even less noticeable to the unobservant eye. Ash looks out his office window every day and sees that the light poles outside the practice facility are tilted. "You've got old lights that look like, when you turn them on, they're going to smoke," he said. "It's not a good presentation in recruiting."
This is the priority for Ash. He already has brought in new equipment to get the team started for its offseason workout program, but the plan is to "completely wipe it out when the semester is over." Ash will change the floor, the weight racks, the equipment and, most of all, the presentation.
"We can't do what's been done in the past and expect our results to change in the future," Ash said during a wide-ranging hour-long interview in his office. "It's not going to happen. We can't keep doing business the same way."
So Ash already has changed how Rutgers players will eat. He has made it so players can get healthy foods 24 hours a day, which is allowable under NCAA rules but never offered before in Piscataway.
Now, in the coming months, he wants to change where they live. Ash said the dorms where the football players are housed, which were built in 1974, are "not on par with what other student athletes in top programs live in" and keep coming up as a negative on the recruiting trail.
"I just know when I look at it, and I look at what could happen in those dorms, it's just not good," he said. "All I can envision is just stuff that's not good."
"You've got to have full alignment by the staff and the support staff. Those are things we're trying to do," he said. "It's no secret: This place was not aligned right, with the football and the support staff and the athletic department."
Boy, don't I feel stupid. All season I was clamoring for Kyle Flood to get fired because his stupidity cost him a three game suspension, and his lack of intuitional control over his team had his entire defensive backfield sitting behind bars. Turns out those were the least of Rutgers worries. I didn't even know that the coaches were basically working in a penitentiary. No one told me that the players were living in squaller and being fed like they were in a 1960's orphanage. Almost not even their fault that half of them got arrested last year. Their decision to loot and pillage drugs from off campus houses and physically assault anyone that questioned their motives was a direct result of their environment. Who knew that the place where student athletes can best relieve their stress - the gym - was basically a glorified Retro Fitness. Facilities on par with UConn and Syracuse?! Jesus Christ, this team has been living like homeless people, no wonder their actions on and off the field have been nothing short of criminal.
I gotta be honest, I almost felt insulted for a second. You know, until I realized the person disparaging every single aspect of Rutgers football has committed himself to the program for the foreseeable future. These criticisms are like the criticisms that your significant other starts giving you after you pledge your life to one another in marriage. Sure, they might seem a little mean, but they are made out of love, and more importantly they are rooted in truth.
Does Chris Ash seem a little bit over the top? Absolutely. Can't say I would have noticed an off kilter light post or a little bit of rust on an ice machine, but that's what makes Chris Ash the man trusted to rebuild Rutgers football and me the person that sarcastically writes about him. He's basically the football version of that bitch from 'Devil Wears Prada'. He's meticulous, unwavering, and detail oriented. A real stickler for things that the average person would pay no mind. Probably makes him a real son-of-a bitch to have as a father, but it's something that could very well make him a hell of a Head Coach. What you call fussy I call conscientious, and that's the type of attitude that it takes to run a successful business. Big Ten football is serious business, and I can't say there is a man I would rather have in charge of getting Rutgers a promotion than Chris Ash.