Organization: NCAA Football
Over the last four years, Rob Ambrose has led Towson football to 33 wins, a pair of CAA championships and two NCAA FCS playoff appearances. Heading into his seventh season at the helm of the Tiger football program in 2015, Ambrose has his sights set on a return to the NCAA FCS National Championship game.
Coming off an NCAA FCS Championship game appearance the year before, the Tigers battled a plethora of injuries during the 2014 season. However, for the second straight year, a Tiger was selected in the NFL Draft. Just one year after running back Terrance West was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round, cornerback Tye Smith went in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft to the Seattle Seahawks.
You don't have to look very far back to find Ambrose's impact in the wins and losses column. In 2013, he guided the Tigers to a magical season as Towson reached the NCAA FCS championship game by beating No. 9 Fordham, No. 2 Eastern Illinois and No. 3 Eastern Washington in consecutive weeks. Towson finished the campaign with a 13-3 record; the 13 wins were a school record.
Ranked second in the final NCAA FCS polls, Towson won the Lambert/Meadowlands Award as the top FCS team in the East. The Tigers were also honored as the ECAC FCS Team of the Year.
During the 2012 season, Ambrose led the Tigers to a 7-4 record against an extremely difficult schedule. The Tigers lost to a pair of nationally-ranked FBS programs in Kent State and LSU. But, Towson finished the season with a 6-2 CAA record as the Tigers shared the league title.
In 2011, just his third season as the Tigers’ head coach, Ambrose guided Towson to one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football history. Only one season removed from a 1-10 record, the 2011 team became the "Turnaround Tigers" by going 9-3. Their 7.5-game improvement was the most dramatic improvement in NCAA Division I history.
Towson posted a 9-2 regular season record, beat six nationally-ranked teams and won the CAA championship outright with a 7-1 record in 2011. The Tigers also made their first appearance in the NCAA FCS playoffs, becoming the first program to earn playoff berths at the Division III, Division II and FCS (I-AA) levels.
Once the season ended, Ambrose was honored as the 2011 CAA Coach of the Year, the AFCA District Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year. In January 2012, he was the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award as the top coach in FCS football.
Ambrose took over the Towson football program in 2009 after seven years on the University of Connecticut football staff. While at UConn, the Huskies grew from an NCAA Division I-AA program into a major FBS contender. UConn posted a 49-36 record with just two losing seasons while Ambrose was there. The Huskies made three bowl appearances in five years, debuted in the AP national rankings, and won a share of the Big East title in 2007.
Joining the staff as the quarterbacks coach, Ambrose played a major role in the development of Dan Orlovsky, the first UConn quarterback to play in the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions. In 2008 as the offensive coordinator, Ambrose coached Donald Brown, an All-American and the 2008 Big East Offensive Player of the Year. Brown led the nation with 2,083 yards on 367 carries and became the first UConn player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
Prior to UConn, Ambrose spent one season as the head coach at Catholic University, a Division III program in Washington, D.C. In one year at Catholic, Ambrose led the Cardinals to a 3-7 record.
Ambrose started his coaching career as an assistant at Towson from 1992-2000. In nine years as a Tiger assistant, the team went 54-36 with only two losing seasons. Ambrose started as a student-assistant before being promoted to wide receivers coach in 1993, offensive coordinator in 1997 and then to associate head coach in 2000.
He coached four All-Americans in running back Tony Vinson, quarterback Dan Crowley, and wide receivers Mark Orlando and Jamal White. Vinson led the nation in rushing yards (2,016), all-purpose yards (2,073) and points scored (138) in 1993. Vinson went on to be a fifth-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers. Orlando earned All-America notice by catching 55 passes for 1,223 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In 1999, Towson led the nation in passing yardage, averaging 381.2 passing yards per game.
As a player at Towson, Ambrose started his career as a quarterback but moved to wide receiver as a sophomore. In 1990, he caught four passes for 20 yards. As a junior, he had four catches for 35 yards. Three of those receptions were touchdown passes from Dan Crowley. He caught an 11-yard TD pass at James Madison, a seven-yard TD toss at Liberty and a 14-yard TD pass against Hofstra. An injury in the spring before his senior year forced Ambrose to the sidelines.
The Tigers’ coach is the son of one of the most successful high school football coaches in Maryland. His father, Tim, was the head coach at Middletown for 31 years and won 249 games, leading the Knights to 14 Monocacy Valley League championships. He retired in 2013, just in time to follow the Tigers' march to the NCAA championship game. The former athletic director at Middletown, he stepped down as football coach after the 2004 season. Coach Ambrose’s brother, Jared, was an assistant football coach at Delaware for two years before joining the Tigers’ staff. He is currently the program’s offensive coordinator.
Ambrose and his wife, Melissa, have two children: Grace and Riley.
Season Overall CAA Comments
2009 2-9 1-7, 10th place
2010 1-10 0-8, 10th place
2011 9-3 7-1, Champions, CAA Champions, NCAA FCS Playoffs
2012 7-4 6-2, 1st place, CAA co-champions
2013 13-3 6-2, 2nd place, NCAA FCS Finalists, Lambert/Meadowlands Award, ECAC Team of the Year
2014 4-8 2-6, 10th place