The 2016 college football season couldn’t have gone much worse for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights went 2-10 overall and 0-9 in the Big Ten. Even worse, Rutgers failed to score a single point against Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State, losing those games 58-0, 78-0, 49-0 and 39-0, respectively.
If you’re trying to find a bright spot in those losses, good luck.
“There isn’t any,” Rutgers head football coach Chris Ash said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “We came here to build a program. We came here to compete. But we also came here to win. Nobody’s happy, there’s no bright spots when you lose games like that. They happen, unfortunately. I’ve been on both sides of games like that throughout my career and they’re not fun. But no, there are not a lot of bright spots, there’s not a lot of things that you can point to to say, ‘Hey, we’re getting better’ when you lose games like that.”
Ash, 43, was the co-defensive coordinator for the 2014 Ohio State team that won the national title and for the 2015 team that beat Michigan, 42-13, in Ann Arbor. He does not believe that Jim Harbaugh ran up the score on him this past season.
“No, not at all,” Ash said. “We have a job to do – to go out regardless of who’s out there for us or who’s out there for them. No, I don’t believe in the theory that people run up the score. They’ve got players that they’ve got to get better, and we’ve got players that we’ve got to get better. We got to stop them. They want to run plays that they want to run. So no, there’s no running up the score. I don’t believe that happens in college football. People get up and they put in their second-, third-, fourth-teamers – whatever it may be – and they’ve got to give those guys reps. They got to give them an opportunity to learn their offensive playbook and showcase what they can do. That’s just the way it goes. Again, I’ve been on both sides of it, so I know how it is.”
Ash, for what it’s worth, has been a part of lost seasons. In 2013, he was on staff for Bret Bielema’s first season at Arkansas. The Razorbacks started 3-0 but lost nine straight to end the season.
“We got slaughtered in a lot of those games, so I’ve been there before,” Ash said. “In every game – win or lose – we’re going to go back and look at the good, the bad, things we could have done better. I’m realistic. I know where we’re at and what we need to do to keep getting better. It is discouraging at times, but I’m not deflated. Again, I know what we have to do and what we’re trying to do. You just got to be patient.”