BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Montana State football coach Rob Ash has been fired after nine seasons.
Athletic director Peter Fields said Monday that the program wasn't maintaining the level of success expected by fans. The Bobcats finished the season with a 5-6 record, 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference.
''We're not going to win the championship every year, but we should be in the mix every year,'' Fields said. ''With the resources that we put into it, we should.''
The Bobcats shared league titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and advanced to the FCS playoffs in those three years and in 2014. However, the team has struggled late during the past three seasons.
Ash was 70-38 over his nine seasons at Montana State, but only 2-7 against rival Montana, including a 54-35 loss Saturday.
''This season was hard for everybody,'' including Ash, Fields said. ''When you watch the players leave the field after a loss, you see the dejection in their faces.''
Fields said MSU will begin its search for a new coach immediately and he expects to be able to attract a quality coach.
''We have a great stadium, our fans are tremendous and football's important here,'' he said, adding that he'd like to see the team consistently be in the Top 10 of the FCS rankings.
Ideally, Fields said he'd like to have a new coach hired within the next two weeks, but acknowledged that may be difficult with the Thanksgiving break, FCS teams still in the playoffs and FBS teams wrapping up their regular seasons.
Montana State's assistants will remain on board until a new coach is hired and decides on a staff, Fields said. The school will honor the scholarships of athletes who have committed to play football for the Bobcats.
Ash came to Montana State from Drake in June 2007. He was charged with improving the team's academic and off-the-field reputation.
Ash has been a head coach for 41 seasons. He was named the coach of the year in the FCS in 2011 and served on the board of the American Football Coaches Association from 2002 until 2012, serving as president in 2011.