Rob Ambrose | Towson University

Team: Towson University
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Skokie, Illinois


Not many people have the passion  for Towson University as head coach Rob Ambrose.  

A former player and assistant coach, Ambrose has used that passion to turn the Tigers into one of the top teams in the FCS.

In his first seven years as head coach, Ambrose led the Tigers to four winning seasons, two CAA championships, two playoff appearances and a trip to the 2013 FCS National Championship game.

In his third season, 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.  The Tigers also made their first appearance in the FCS playoffs, becoming the first program to earn playoff berths at the Division III, Division II and FCS levels.

After the season, Ambrose was the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award, honoring the top coach in the FCS.  He was also named the CAA Coach of the Year, AFCA District Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.

Ambrose was not the only Tiger to be honored after the season as freshman running back Terrance West was named the Jerry Rice Award winner, recognizing the top freshman in the FCS.  West finished his first season as a collegiate with 1,294 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.

The momentum carried over into the 2012 season, as the Tigers went went 7-4 against a schedule that saw them play at Kent State and LSU during the non-conference play.  Towson earned a share of the CAA championship with a 6-2 mark, including a 64-35 victory over New Hampshire in the final game of the season.  

The 2013 season was one all Tiger fans will remember.  Towson opened the season by going on the road and knocking off Connecticut, 31-18.  It marked the first victory over an FBS opponent.

Towson would start the season with six-straight victories, and end the regular season with a 10-2 record.  

The Tigers began their playoff run with a home victory over No. 9 Fordham, before going on the road to knock off No. 2 Eastern Illinois and No. 3 Eastern Washington.  

The season came to an end with a loss in the National Championship game, but not before the Tigers won a school-record 13 games.  Towson finished the season ranked No. 2 in the polls and 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.

West was the workhorse behind the Tigers run to the postseason as he carried the ball 413 times for 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns.  He finished third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, honoring the top player in the FCS.

After the season, West declared for the NFL Draft and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round.

West was one of seven Tigers to earn All-America recognition following the 2013 season.

Offensive lineman Eric Pike joined West as a First-Team All-American, while linebacker Telvion Cook, cornerback Jordan Love and fullback Emmanuel Holder were selected Second-Team All-Americans.  Defensive end Ryan Delaire was a third-team selection, while offensive lineman Randall Harris garnered honorable mention accolades.

The 2014 season saw the Tigers battle through injuries, including the entire offensive front.

Following the season, cornerback Tye Smith was selected in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks, while Delaire was signed as a free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Delaire would end up playing for the Super Bowl runner-up Carolina Panthers.

Ambrose used the results of the 2014 season for motivation moving into 2015.  The result was a 7-4 record, and a 5-3 record in CAA play.  The team won five of their last games, put together a streak of seven-straight shutout quarters and recorded their first shutout of rival Delaware.

Ambrose returned to Towson after spending seven years as an assistant coach at Connecticut, helping the Huskies from an FCS program into a major college contender.

During his time in Storrs, Ambrose helped the Huskies to 49 victories, three bowl appearances and a share of the 2007 Big East championship.

Ambrose spent the final three seasons at UConn as the team’s offensive coordinator.  The 2008 offense was anchored by running back Donald Brown who led the nation with 2.083 rushing yards on 367 carries.  Brown would be named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year on his way to earning All-America honors.  He would later become the first UConn player to be selected in the First Round of the NFL Draft.  

Ambrose joined the Huskies’ staff as the quarterbacks coach in 2002.  He played a major role in the development of quarterback Dan Orlovsky, the first UConn quarterback to play in the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions.

The 2001 season was the first as a head coach for Ambrose.  He spent one season as the head coach at Catholic University, leading the Cardinals to a 3-7 record.

Ambrose’s coaching career began where his playing career ended as he joined the Tigers as a wide receivers coach in 1993 after spending the 1992 season as a student assistant.  

Under his guidance, wide receiver Mark Orlando earned All-America honors after catching 55 passes for 1,223 yards and 12 touchdowns.  

Ambrose took over as the offensive coordinator in 1997, and added the associate head coach title in 2000.  In his third season, Ambrose’s offense led the country in passing yardage (381.2 ypg), while his 2000 team saw Noah Read lead the Patriot League in rushing.

As a player at Towson, Ambrose began his career as a quarterback before moving to wide receiver as a sophomore.  As a junior, he caught four passes for 35 yards.  Three of those receptions went for touchdowns.  An injury prior to his senior year forced him to the sidelines.

Ambrose graduated from Towson in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Coaching runs in the Ambrose family as Rob’s father, Tim, was one of the most successful high school football coaches in Maryland.  He won 249 games and 14 Monocacy Valley League championships in 31 years.  

Brother, Jared Ambrose joined the Towson staff in 2009 before taking over the offensive coordinator in 2013.  

Ambrose and his wife, Melissa, have two children: Grace and Riley.

Season Overall CAA Accomplishments
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
2015 7-4 5-3, T-4th place

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