Texas is close to naming Chris Ash as its new defensive coordinator, according to Chip Brown of 247Sports. The report has since been confirmed by a number of outlets in Austin.
Ash has long been the favorite to get the job, as he's been a literal and figurative presence around the program ever since his firing at Rutgers in September.
He will replace Todd Orlando, who was fired on Dec. 1. Considering Ash's availability and the two-week gap between hiring and firing, Herman clearly looked beyond Ash to fill the post, though the search remained close to the vest throughout.
Ash worked with Herman previously for two seasons at two separate stops. In 2009, Ash was the defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator on a Paul Rhoads-led Iowa State staff for which Herman was the offensive coordinator, and in 2014 Herman and Ash led the offense and defense on a national championship Ohio State team.
Ash will install a 4-man front, a welcome change in Austin from the 3-man scheme that grew unpopular under Orlando. Texas finished 83rd in sacks, 70th in tackles for loss, 96th in pass efficiency defense, 105th in yards per play and 74th in scoring defense en route to one of the most disappointing seasons in school history.
With Ash coming aboard, the focus will now turn to the remainder of the UT defensive staff. Safeties coach Craig Naivar has been appointed interim coordinator for the upcoming bowl game, and cornerbacks coach Jason Washington and defensive line coach Oscar Giles remain in their posts. Ash's speciality has been in the defensive backfield, so presumably Texas will be in the market for a linebackers coach while Naivar, Washington or both could possibly move on.
The 2019 Texas staff was incredibly unbalanced between the two sides of the ball: six full-time assistants on offense plus Herman working as coordinator and play-caller with just four defensive coaches. It will be interesting to see if Ash's arrival plus a new offensive coordinator will lead to a more balanced staff.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.