Another Badger is headed to the land of the Razorbacks.
Chris Ash replaces Paul Haynes as Arkansas' defensive coordinator.
Wisconsin co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, who helped the Badgers earn three straight trips to the Rose Bowl, has been hired as Arkansas’ defensive coordinator, the UA announced Tuesday.
"I’m excited to join the Arkansas nation," Ash said during a Tuesday evening teleconference. "It’s a great tradition of athletics, and I’m very excited to join Coach Bielema’s staff and get started as soon as we can."
Ash, 38, will stay on at Wisconsin through the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema, whom the Hogs lured away from Wisconsin a week ago, said in a press release that he was excited to add Ash to his staff.
“In the last three years working together, I gained a great respect for the way Chris teaches the game and develops student-athletes," Bielema said. "I’ve followed his career for a long time, and his knowledge of the way we run our program and specifically the defense will be valuable for us moving forward in our transition.
"Chris helped us improve drastically in our pass defense at Wisconsin where his defenses consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally in all the major categories.”
This past season, Ash helped the Badgers lead the Big Ten in three-and-out percentage and three-and-outs per game. Wisconsin is No. 13 in the country in total defense and No. 19 in the nation in scoring defense.
Ash, an Ottumwa, Iowa native and a 1996 graduate of Drake, has spent the past three seasons at Wisconsin, helping the Badgers win three straight Big Ten titles. He also coaches Wisconsin’s defensive backs.
Ash said it hasn't been determined if he'll be the defensive backs coach at Arkansas, but "I will be hands-on with the defensive backs," he said.
"That's my expertise, and I will assist in some capacity with that."
Ash wouldn't discuss the details of his contract but noted that they would be made available soon.
Immediately before taking the job in Madison, Ash was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Iowa State in 2009 and the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator at San Diego State in 2007-2008. He also coached at Iowa State from 2000-2006, starting out as a graduate assistant before becoming the full-time secondary coach and recruiting coordinator.
He began his coaching career at Drake, where he played defensive back. During his time in Des Moines, he came to know Bielema.
"He and I have just kind of come up through the coaching ranks together," Ash said. "Three years ago he offered me the opportunity to come work with him at the University of Wisconsin, and I jumped at it. Great familiarity. I’ve known Bret for a long time. I know the way he likes to coach. I know what he believes in, and those are consistent with my thought and beliefs. I like the way he runs his programs, and he’s a winner."
Ash said he's never been to Fayetteville before, and that 10 days ago, he wouldn't have imagined coaching at Arkansas. But he said nothing in the coaching profession surprises him.
He said he's also familiar with Arkansas football and SEC football, having watched it for years.
"I think it’s a place that’s a sleeping giant where you have the opportunity to do great things," Ash said of Arkansas. "I’ve heard nothing but great things about the community, the state, the passion the fans have for the program and the university. If you have all those things in place and have got great facilities, you’ve got an outstanding athletic director, when you have those things in place I think you have a chance for success.
"I didn’t need to go to Fayetteville to make this decision. It’s more about the people and the guys you work with and work for. Those things are there. I’m excited about the opportunity and I think I’m going to really enjoy it."
The Ash File
Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
College: B.A., Drake, 1996
M.A., Iowa State, 2005
Children: Tanner and Jacey
1996: Drake (Volunteer Assistant)
1997: Drake (Graduate Assistant - defense)
1998-99: Drake (Defensive Coordinator)
2000-01: Iowa State (Graduate Assistant - defense)
2002-05: Iowa State (Defensive Backs)
2006: Iowa State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator)
2007-08: San Diego State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator)
2009: Iowa State (Defensive Backs/Recruiting Coordinator)
2010: Wisconsin (Defensive Backs)
2011-2012: Wisconsin (Co-Defensive Coordinator/ Defensive Backs)
2012-present: Defensive coordinator, Arkansas