Arizona State announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that Sun Devils’ Wide Receivers coach Rob Likens has been promoted to the role of Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach for ASU.
The announcement came just hours after Billy Napier, ASU’s current offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, was announced as the next lead man at UL-Lafayette.
Napier’s departure is a large blow to Arizona State as it ventures into its first few weeks under Herm Edwards and his “New Leadership Model,” one that made it clear that a main focus would be retaining coordinators.
Likens has only held the sole role of offensive coordinator for one year, Kansas’s 2015-16 campaign. Before that season, he’d served as an assistant in various offensive positions at six different schools.
Likens’ unit in Lawrence struggled mightily. His Jayhawks ranked dead last in total, scoring and rushing offense while managing just 15.2 points per game. Though the numbers are clearly poor, it’s worth noting that KU has finished at or near the bottom of the Big-12 rankings recruiting-wise each of the last seven years, per 247sports.com.
Likens has been far more successful coaching positional groups, especially the wide-receiver position. Freshman Kyle Williams has emerged as the most efficient receiver when targeted in the Pac-12 Conference, sophomore wideout N’Keal Harry continued his dominant career in a Sun Devil uniform with 1,000 yards this season and Jalen Harvey became an elite third down weapon for Napier’s offense.
Likens’ time in Berkley with Jared Goff and the California Golden Bears was similarly successful, with Cal tallying the sixth-ranked passing game in the country and three of his four receivers managing to be named candidates for the Biletnikoff Award.
The hire seemed the most logical fit as time is running out for Arizona State, which would likely like to have its coaching staff locked in place before the early signing period begins in just a few days. Likens is well-liked around the program and has done terrific work with his wideouts, but it has yet to be seen if he can put together a competent offense — or recruit at a high level, which will be extremely difficult with ASU’s staff departures.
ASU’s defensive coordinator position is still up for grabs as well, but there doesn’t seem to be as good an internal option. The clock is ticking for Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils.