Ohio State officially introduces Arkansas' Chris Ash as co-DC

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Chris Ash was Bret Bielema's defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Arkansas.  (USATSI)
Chris Ash was Bret Bielema's defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Arkansas. (USATSI)

Chris Ash, the former Bret Bielema assistant at Wisconsin and Arkansas, was officially introduced as Ohio State's new co-defensive coordinator on Thursday.

Ash, like Everett Withers before him, will lead the defense with Luke Fickell and coach the safeties. He has coached defensive backs and been a defensive coordinator for the last three seasons on Bielema's staff, including two Rose Bowl teams at Wisconsin.

"We've competed against a Chris Ash defense before and I have respect for him as a coach," Urban Meyer said. "I like the fact he has experience in the Big Ten Conference and that he is a great recruiter. He was highly recommended by everyone I spoke to."

Thursday's announcement was no surprise -- SI and others first reported the Ash-to-Ohio State story over a week ago -- but the news is still headline-worthy for what it means to Buckeye fans for 2014.

Ohio State's one glaring weakness from 2013 was its pass defense (ranked No. 112 nationally in yards per game allowed). After 24 consecutive victories, the Buckeyes fell to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Spartans and Tigers were able to find success through the air in those games, combining for 682 passing yards.

With Larry Johnson added to the Buckeyes' staff as defensive line coach and Ash taking care of the safeties, Meyer and Fickell will have an opportunity to improve the way Ohio State both pressures the quarterback and compliments that pressure in the defensive backfield.

"I was attracted to this position because it is Ohio State," Ash said, "and I had to wonder if I ever would have this opportunity again. This is one of the top five college football programs in the country. It has tremendous history and tradition, and it is a great academic institution.

"The opportunity to work for Coach Meyer and to learn as a part of his staff will absolutely enhance my knowledge of the game and my coaching experiences."

Ohio State has not released a full schedule for spring practice, but the spring game has been set for April 12 in Ohio Stadium.

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