Rob Likens is in his second season as the assistant head coach and outside receivers coach at Cal in 2014 and his first with the additional responsibilities of passing game coordinator.
“We’re excited about Rob taking on his additional role,” head coach Sonny Dykes said. “Rob has been around our type of offense for more than a decade so he really has a lot of experience with it. He’s a very knowledgeable football coach who is a tireless worker and has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. He brings a lot of experience and really knows how to attack defenses. Plus, he is someone who really cares about his players and they enjoy playing for and being around him.”
“I have been with Sonny from his first year as a head coach,” Likens said. “It has been amazing to watch him grow as a leader, evaluator and head coach. He is totally committed to ensuring that our student-athletes are provided with every resource available to earn a world-class meaningful degree. Sonny also has a gift for creating a work environment that inspires everyone around him to give their best efforts and strive to be a better person on a daily basis.”
Cal’s passing game during Likens’ first season with the Golden Bears in 2013 set single-season school records for passing yardage (3,977), pass completions (368) and pass attempts (622), while also establishing new single-game marks during the campaign for passing yardage (521 vs. Washington State) and pass attempts (65 vs. Northwestern).
Likens will have three of his top four receivers in Biletnikoff Award candidates Chris Harper, Kenny Lawler and Bryce Treggs returning from the team’s 2013 record-breaking offense and 15 players that accounted for 276 receptions and 2,944 yards of last season’s receiving totals.
Treggs’ 77 receptions in 2013 ranked fourth on the school’s all-time list while Harper’s 70 were seventh to give the duo 147 combined catches and make the duo the second-most productive single-season pass catchers in school history behind only the 160 recorded by current NFL players Keenan Allen (98) and Marvin Jones (62) in 2011. Lawler emerged during the second half of the season, catching all five of his team-high touchdown receptions in back-to-back games against Arizona and USC with the three against the Wildcats tying a single-game school record.
Prior to his arrival in Berkeley, Likens served as an assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for Dykes at Louisiana Tech when he was the Bulldogs’ head coach from 2010-12, including a final campaign in Ruston in which Louisiana Tech posted a 9-3 record and led the nation in scoring offense and total offense by averaging 51.50 points and 577.92 yards of total offense per game.
Likens coached 2012 second-team AP All-American and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Quinton Patton, who was a major contributor to the team’s prolific scoring offense and currently a member of the San Francisco 49ers after being selected by the professional team in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Likens directed one of the most potent wide receiver corps in the country in 2012 led by Patton, who paced the Western Athletic Conference in both per-game receiving yards (116.00 ypg) and receptions (8.67 rpg), while ranking fourth and fifth in the nation, respectively. He finished with totals of 104 receptions, 1,392 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches.
In addition to leading the country in scoring offense and total offense with an offense that posted the fifth-highest per-game scoring average ever by a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Louisiana Tech was among the NCAA’s top 20 in 2012 in passing offense (3rd, 350.75 ypg), fewest sacks allowed (7th, 0.83 spg), turnover margin (10th, +1.08 per game) and rushing offense (18th, 227.17 ypg). The Bulldogs scored more than 40 points in 11 of 12 games and over 50 points on eight occasions.
Likens coached a group of receivers in 2011 that registered 3,229 receiving yards with 21 touchdown catches during a campaign that included a stretch of seven consecutive wins and a WAC championship. Patton, a 2011 Biletnikoff Award Watch List member, finished the season with 1,202 receiving yards and 11 touchdown catches while becoming the first Bulldog receiver to reach 1,000 yards receiving since 2000.
In his first year at Tech in 2010, Likens oversaw a receiving corps that helped the Bulldogs improve from a No. 91 national ranking in passing offense in 2009 to No. 62 in 2010 despite a revolving door at quarterback through the first third of the season.
Prior to his three-year stint at Louisiana Tech, Likens served for four seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Central Connecticut State (2006-09) and led the Blue Devils to more wins than in any other four-year period in school history.
CCSU had winning records during each of Likens’ four seasons, capped off with a 9-3 mark in 2009 that included a Northeast Conference title and an appearance in the Gridiron Classic, as he coached the ground game to a top 10 national ranking among Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools each year.
Under Likens’ guidance, the Blue Devils led the conference in scoring offense two times, had three undefeated home records and averaged just under 30 points per game in four seasons (29.1 ppg). Likens coached a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, Walter Payton Award finalists, All-America running backs and NEC Offensive Players of the Year in Justise Hairston and James Mallory.
The Blue Devils averaged 239.18 yards per game on the ground in 2008 to rank seventh in the FCS when the team also paced the Northeast Conference in scoring offense, averaging 30.0 points per game. Mallory rushed for 1,520 yards and earned second-team All-NEC honors, becoming the second player in school history to crack the 1,500 mark in rushing.
In 2007, CCSU led the NEC in both per-game total offense (387.7 ypg) and rushing offense (257.6 ypg), ranking 10th nationally in the latter.
The Blue Devil offense set numerous school records in 2006, including single-season total yards (4,271) and rushing yards (3,150). CCSU led the nation in rushing yards per game (284.9 ypg) and finished 10th in total offense (386.8 ypg). As a team, CCSU set new single-season marks with 42 rushing touchdowns and 51 touchdowns overall in 11 games.
Hairston set the school’s single-season record and was the nation’s leading FCS rusher in 2006 with 1,847 yards. He earned AP All-America, AFCA All-America, Sports Network Mid-Major All-America and NEC Offensive Player of the Year honors that season. Hairston was eighth in the final Walter Payton Award balloting, played in the Hula Bowl and Texas vs. the Nation Game, and was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2007 NFL Draft.
In all, CCSU’s offense produced eight team records and six individual and single-game marks under Likens. He coached four-first team All-NEC selections, four second-team All-NEC choices and five NEC Offensive Player of the Week honorees, giving him 13 all-conference picks in his four seasons.
Prior to joining Central Connecticut State, Likens spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Southeast Missouri State (2004-05), where he also worked specifically with the team’s quarterbacks and wide receivers. He spent six campaigns at both Temple (1998-2003) as the wide receivers coach and North Alabama (1992-97), where he worked with the running backs for the first season of his tenure and the wide receivers for his final five. At North Alabama, he helped the Lions become the first program in NCAA scholarship football to win three consecutive national championships, a feat that no other Division II school has ever accomplished and that has only since been replicated by FCS schools Appalachian State (2005-07) and North Dakota State (2011-13).
Likens played collegiate football as a wide receiver at Mississippi State, earning his bachelor’s degree and graduating cum laude in 1990 in math education. He earned his master’s degree in math education from North Alabama in 1995.Likens and his wife, Soni, have one son, Nicolas Cutter.
The Likens File
Collegiate Coaching History
Bowl (2 Games)/NCAA Playoff History (5 Seasons)
*Season in which bowl games/playoff were played