Bielema picks Ash as Razorbacks defensive coordinator

With the naming on Tuesday of Chris Ash as his new defensive coordinator, new Head Razorback football coach Bret Bielema is wasting no time pulling together top staff.

Bielema, the former head coach at the University of Wisconsin, was named the head Razorback coach on Dec. 4.

Ash, Bielema’s defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, helped lead Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowls. Ash will remain with the Wisconsin program through its appearance in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013, according to Tuesday’s (Dec. 11) statement from the University of Arkansas Athletic Department.

“I am excited to welcome Chris to our staff,” Bielema said in the statement. “In the last three years working together, I gained a great respect for the way Chris teaches the game and develops student-athletes. 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.”

Ash spent the last three seasons at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win three straight Big Ten championships and become the first Big Ten team to play in three straight Rose Bowls since Michigan following the 1976-78 seasons. Ash brings experience as a defensive coordinator at two other schools and has also been a recruiting coordinator three times in his career.

In 2012, Wisconsin led the Big Ten and ranked third in the NCAA with a three-and-out percentage of 41.72, and the Badgers’ 5.23 three and outs per game topped the Big Ten and was fourth in the country.

The Badgers’ defense was 13th in the NCAA in total defense and tied for 19th in the country in scoring defense. Wisconsin also ranked 21st in the nation in third-down conversion defense in addition to being third in the conference in sacks and ranked 21st in the NCAA in rush defense and pass efficiency defense and 23rd in the country in pass defense.

In 2010, Ash oversaw improvement in the Badger pass defense. Wisconsin allowed just 193.9 passing yards per game through the air.

Prior to his time at Wisconsin, Ash spent eight of 10 seasons at Iowa State, beginning as a defensive graduate assistant in 2000. He was promoted to secondary coach in 2002 and added the title of recruiting coordinator in 2006.

Following the 2006 season, Ash moved on to become the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator at San Diego State. He stayed there for two seasons before returning to Iowa State in the same position.

In 2009, his final season at Iowa State, the Cyclones tied for second in the NCAA in red zone efficiency and ranked ninth in the NCAA with 32 takeaways. In 2005, Iowa State led the Big 12 with 22 interceptions after ranking second in the conference with 17 interceptions the year before.

Ash began his career as a volunteer assistant at Drake in 1996. The next season he served as a defensive graduate assistant for the Bulldogs and then took over as defensive coordinator for two seasons.

Ash graduated from Drake with a bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1996. He received his master's degree in education from Iowa State in 2005. A native of Ottumwa, Iowa, Ash has two children, Tanner and Jacey.