Ash’s firing comes as shock to many

Coaching football has never come with a lot of job stability, especially in the more elite leagues, but news of Rob Ash’s dismissal from the Montana State University program, which started as a tweet, then progressed to multiple news articles, came as a surprise to many.

The 65-year-old had served as the head coach of the Bobcats football team for nine seasons and rebuilt a program in shambles. The team was struggling with academic issues as well as arrests when Ash took over in 2007. He didn’t just turn the program around — he won on the field, too, as the winningest coach in Bobcat history. Ash ended his career at MSU with a record of 70-38.

News of the firing came just two days after the Bobcats ended their season with a loss to rival University of Montana, who trounced MSU 54-35 on Saturday afternoon in Bozeman. It was the first losing season for the Cats in 14 years.

Ash may have won three Big Sky Conference championships, but he also had a 2-7 record against the Griz. MSU had never beaten the Grizzlies in Bozeman under Ash. Bobcat fans take the rivalry seriously (despite the fact that MSU has only won five of the past 30 matchups against Montana), and MSU’s athletic director, Peter Fields, decided it was time to go in a different direction.

Several MSU players took to Twitter to state their complaints. Ash was well-liked by both the team and his staff.

Ash took over in 2007 after former head coach Mike Kramer was fired. During his tenure at Montana State, Ash was named coach of the year in the FCS in 2011 and served as president of the American Football Coaches Association the same year.

The plan is to hire a new coach within 10 to 14 days. Fields has said he is optimistic that it will not be difficult to find a replacement, saying that good coaches would want to be a part of the MSU program.

During this tumultuous weekend, MSU seems to have forgotten that they already have one.