Rutgers head coach Chris Ash will hire Jay Niemann as his defensive coordinator, FootballScoop learned Wednesday. Niemann presently serves in the same capacity at Northern Illinois.
Ash and Niemann have known each other for more than 20 years; Niemann was Ash's position coach when the latter was a safety at Drake in the early 1990's. While Ash bounced around the country rising the coaching ladder, Niemann's experience has been spent nearly entirely in the Midwest and West Coast.
After serving at Drake from 1989-96, Niemann took on a variety of roles at Northern Iowa from 1997-01, then garnered the head coaching job at Simpson University in Iowa from 2002-07. From there he spent three seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at Hardin-Simmons University in Texas, then the last five seasons as defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Northern Illinois. Niemann got his start in coaching at Western Washington and later Washington as a graduate assistant.
Niemann's coaching trajectory mirrors the rest of the staff Ash has collected at Rutgers. From Bill Busch (defensive backs), Aaron Henry (assistant defensive backs), Zak Kuhr (wide receivers), Drew Mehringer (offensive coordinator) to A.J. Blazek (offensive line), Ash has built a staff long on experience across the country -- except New Jersey and the Northeast. That, clearly, is something the new Rutgers staff will have to work through as a group.
Ash has a plan to make up the difference. "I've done this in other places, too," Ash told NJ.com earlier this month. "I want to get high school coaches on campus, get a chance to meet with them, talk to them about my vision and my plan and how we're going to conduct business in the program, how we're going to take care of their players, how we're going to develop their players and hopefully they'll get excited about that. That's the first step."
Perhaps retaining defensive line coach Jim Panagos and perhaps some others from Kyle Flood's staff would give the Scarlet Knights' some necessary institutional knowledge of Rutgers' home territory.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.