UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: As coordinator, Ash heads back upstairs

FB_110830_Ash_Chris.jpegUp or down? That's always been the question for college football coordinators, especially defensive coordinators. Should they call the game from the press box or the sidelines?

"I'm really going back to where I've been most of my career,'' said Chris Ash, who will call the defensive signals against UNLV from the Camp Randall Stadium press box Thursday night.

Coming into the 2011 season, Ash and Charlie Partridge are co-defensive coordinators; sharing the title previously held by Dave Doeren, who's now running his own program at Northern Illinois.

Ash joined the Wisconsin staff last year after spending eight of the past 10 seasons at Iowa State. On game days, he coached the Badgers secondary from the sidelines. That was a big change.

"I've always been up in the press box,'' Ash said.

That's where UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst calls the game.

It's not just about sight lines, either.

"It's really just about your comfort level,'' Ash said, "being in an environment where you can think calmly, you can make adjustments, and you can take notes, things like that.''

Ash pointed out that one of the keys for a defensive signal-caller being upstairs is making sure "you've got guys on the field that you can trust and who can communicate with the players.''
That's the case with this staff; particularly with the off-season addition of linebackers coach Dave Huxtable, who was the defensive coordinator at Central Florida the last three seasons.

Ash and Partridge, meanwhile, also worked together at Drake and Iowa State, which is where they first crossed paths with DeMontie Cross, another new hire who's now coaching the UW safeties.

There is one drawback to being in the press box, Ash confirmed.

The lack of energy.

"You don't feel like you're really, truly a part of the game,'' he said. "Being on the sidelines, you're part of the action and I will miss that.

"But when I'm calling the defense, I don't want to get caught up in all of that. I want to be thinking about the next play and the next series and the adjustments.

"When you're on the sidelines, you really have to have poise not to get caught up in the action. I tend to get a little hyper at times and I think I'll be best suited up in the press box.''