College football's coaching silly season won't get started for another couple of months, but the firings have already begun. Rutgers has dismissed coach Chris Ash five weeks into the season, athletic director Pat Hobbs told NJ Advance Media. Additionally, Rutgers has let offensive coordinator John McNulty go. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile will become acting head coach for the remainder of the season.
An official announcement was made Sunday afternoon, though according to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the decision to relieve Ash of his duties came two weeks ago during a Board of Trustees meeting. Now, the school reportedly has eyes set on former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano.
Per his buyout, Rutgers owes Ash approximately $8.47 million. The Scarlet Knights are 1-3 and coming off a 52-0 loss to Michigan this weekend. Ash, who took over Rutgers in 2016, is 8-32 in three-plus seasons with the program. He posted a record of 3-26 in Big Ten conference games. Rutgers never won more than four games in a season under Ash and lost 14 of their last 16 games.
"We appreciate Chris's dedicated efforts on behalf of our football program, our department and our university," Hobbs said in a statement.
Hobbs says he will oversee a search for Ash's replacement. And, yes, Schiano is expected to be a top candidate, as are former Tennessee coach Butch Jones and FSU defensive analyst (and former USF coach) Jim Leavitt.
Other potential candidates for the job, according to NJ Advanced Media, include Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead, Buffalo coach Lance Leipold, Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi and Princeton coach Bob Surace.
However, Schiano from all reports appears to be the clear-cut favorite. Schiano, of course, was the coach of the Scarlet Knights from 2001-11, compiling a 68-67 record. However, at its peak, Rutgers was a player in the now-defunct Big East conference, posting winning records In six of Schiano's final seven seasons. That includes an 11-win season in 2006, tying the school record for most wins in a season with the 1976 undefeated team. That year, the Scarlet Knights were ranked as high as No. 7 in the AP Top 25. In all, Schiano is responsible for five of Rutgers' 11 best seasons ever.
His time post-Rutgers has been more chaotic. Schiano was hired to be the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2011 season, but was fired after two years. He then spent three seasons as Ohio State's defensive coordinator from 2016-18, leaving to join the New England Patriots' staff in the same capacity. However, Schiano then abruptly resigned from his post before coaching a game.