Montana State University Athletic Director Peter Fields announced that Rob Ash is out as the Bobcats head football coach.
Ash was let go just two days after losing his third straight game to Montana State's bitter rival, the University of Montana. His record with the Bobcats against the Grizzlies was 2-7.
Fields said that the decision to let Ash go was based on an evaluation of the last three seasons, during which MSU finished with an overall record of 20-16 and a Big Sky Conference record of 14-10.
"I felt that the program wasn't maintaining the level of expectations of our fans, and everybody associated with the program," Fields said.
He believes the Bobcat football program can attract a quality candidate for the position.
"We have a great stadium, and our fans are tremendous," Fields said. "We have a great institution that supports (the program). Football is important here."
Fields also told reporters that the rest of his staff will be evaluated once a new head coach is hired. He has appointed offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Cramsey as the "point man" for the time being. Cramsey will serve as a liaison for the players and will continue to work on the recruiting trail with defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Bo Beck.
"The program is not in a good spot," Cramsey said. "We're a 5-6 team, we're not in the playoffs, and that's unacceptable. I have a lot of connections, and a lot of jobs would be open out there. But the uncertainty is very nerve-wracking with the family at home."
Ash is the winningest head coach in Montana State football history, finishing his nine-year tenure with a 70-38 record. He led the Bobcats to shares of three straight Big Sky football titles from 2010-12. MSU made playoff appearances in each of those seasons, as well as in 2014.
But that wasn't enough to save his job. Montana State finished this season with a losing record, the first time that has happened in 14 years.
Fields said Ash did a great job in building a better program in a number of facets, including academics and community service.
"This is not an easy decision, and you don't take it lightly. This is a tremendous burden, and it's hard," said Fields.
Fields said the ideal hire time for a new head coach would be within 10-14 days. He said he knows coaches who would be interested, but did not yet have a finalized list of candidates.
"This is recruiting season, and so I want to get somebody on board to evaluate what we have, what we need."
Fields said that given the resources that are being put into the MSU football program, the Bobcats should be ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation all the time.
Montana State was not ranked in either of the FCS Top 25 final regular season polls. The Cats received one point in the STATS Media Poll and did not receive a vote in the Coaches' Poll.
Although success on the field is important, Fields said that an ideal candidate must show the potential to continue Ash's success when it comes to academics and community service.