Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kansas football assistant Likens takes liking to role

Kansas University assistant football coach Rob Likens watches over practice as the players get stretched out on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Kansas University assistant football coach Rob Likens watches over practice as the players get stretched out on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.


Speaking for the first time since the news surfaced that Kansas University football coach David Beaty would be taking over play-calling duties this season, offensive coordinator Rob Likens sounded a lot more like a man appreciative of an opportunity than disappointed about a demotion.

“We kind of have a little role reversal going on during our team sessions in practice,” Likens said Wednesday. “Since he’s calling the plays, that frees me up, and he wants me to see things like a head coach would see ’em.”

So that’s what Likens does. Whether he’s sticking his nose into offensive-line drills or setting up special-teams situations, the second-year KU assistant is approaching things with more of a big-picture vibe than before.

He outlined exactly why he’s happy doing things this way, from on- and off-the-field perspectives.

“You know what I like to see?” Likens asked. “I like to see coaches and players interact. I like to see a player mess up. I like to see the coach go over there and coach him, and then I get a chance to watch his body language when that coach walks away. Does the kid pout? Is he accepting coaching?

“Then I’ll walk over there and go, ‘Hey, man, you know coach is just trying to get you better, right?’ And I can kind of take over that motivating and leadership role. That’s what I really like to do in coaching, and that’s been really cool.”

Likens said he and Beaty still meet every day to talk about the offense — often more than once — and added that he now feels free to provide his input into how KU plans to score points in 2016.

One of those daily meetings between head coach and offensive coordinator has taken place immediately after each spring practice, and Likens said that was when the two went over the notes he took from that day’s action.

As much as he has enjoyed his new role — Likens said most of his time this spring has been spent with the offensive line, because, “There’s so many of them and they’re so young” — Likens did not attempt to dance around the fact that having play-calling taken away from him one year after being hired to do just that was disappointing the day he learned about the change.

“I’m only human, you know,” Likens said. “When you have this vision in your mind, yeah, you’re gonna get disappointed when it changes on you. However, you choose, in life, what type of attitude you’re gonna have.”

With Likens, that choice comes down to walking tall with pep in his step, a smile on his face and optimism about the future.

“Yeah, I had a couple bad days,” he said. “But when I would think about it, my love for Montell Cozart, my love for Larry Hughes and the kids and what these guys have been through, man, they deserve my very, very best. If I wanted to sit back and pout, that would be extremely selfish on my part as an adult because these guys deserve so much more than that.”

Likens, Beaty and the rest of the Jayhawks will be back on the field this afternoon for spring practice No. 12 of 15 and will follow that with the annual spring game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.


David Robinett 6 years, 1 month ago

I guess coaches have to earn it to. It is great to see coach Likens being an attitude role model.

Doug Cramer 6 years, 1 month ago

Yep - humility...something that everyone should learn how to show. It makes you a stronger and more effective individual.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 1 month ago

And he is handling this exactly how he wants his players to handle similar situations. I would think when the kids see how he's dealing with that they maybe would take that page of his book for themselves.

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