Jump to Kansas represents huge opportunity for growth for former Cal assistants
The past couple of days in the Kansas University football world have brought several answers and a couple of questions regarding first-year KU coach David Beaty's staff.
Beaty on Tuesday confirmed the hiring of six assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Rob Likens, who joins the Jayhawks after successful stints at Cal and Louisiana Tech under Sonny Dykes.
Tuesday night, a source indicated to me — and Dykes later confirmed via Rivals.com — that Cal offensive line coach Zach Yenser was following Likens to Lawrence and would become KU's offensive line coach and run-game coordinator.
Likens and Yenser are incredibly tight and have worked well together throughout the years, helping bring some of the most productive offenses in school history to both La Tech and Cal under the direction of Dykes and Cal offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.
According to a couple of guys who cover the Bears out in Berkley, the two also are very personable, loved and respected by the players they coach and even have become fan and media favorites during the past couple of seasons.
The question begs, then, why would either guy leave such a solid situation at Cal to roll the dice on a rebuilding project at KU?
The chance to work with Beaty no doubt factored into the equation, but it's only part of the answer. The other elements might be the bigger pieces of the puzzle.
Clearly, both guys stand to receive promotions, with Likens jumping from receivers coach and passing game coordinator to OC and the opportunity to call plays, and Yenser from O-Line coach to O-Line coach/run-game coordinator. But the titles are just half of it. Those titles also figure to come with a couple of bigger numbers attached to their paychecks.
According to various media reports out of Cal, the Golden Bears' assistant coaches are currently and have been some of the lowest paid coaches in the profession. Add to that the extremely high cost of living in that part of the country, and you're talking about a dollar that doesn't stretch very far.
That won't be an issue for either guy in Kansas. At all. Not only will they likely get significant raises, both will also be living in a part of the country where the dollars they do make get them much more. Don't get me wrong, most coaches are focused solely on making the best moves to advance their careers from the time they get into the business to the time they hang up their whistles, but nearly doubling their salaries surely didn't hurt when they were searching their souls about whether Kansas was the right place for them to take the next step.
According to reports from 2013, when Dykes and his staff were hired at Cal, Likens made a base salary of $125,000, with bonuses that took him just over $200,000 annually. Yenser's base salary was $100,000 and his bonuses extended his compensation to $185,000.
The 30-year-old Yenser, whom Beaty confirmed as a member of his staff on Wednesday — saying, "We are thrilled to have Zach join our staff. He is full of energy, enthusiasm and passion for the game. The production of his players at both Louisiana Tech and Cal has been extraordinary. His players love and respect him and that is important to me. Much Like the rest of our staff, Zach is a man of great integrity and character and we are happy to have him leading our offensive line unit." — may not make quite as big of a salary jump as Likens, who figures to pull in at least double what he made at Cal.
College football is big business, and even at Kansas, where the football program has won just 12 games in the past five seasons, big bucks enter the equation. As I said, I'm sure the opportunity to increase their income was a big pull for these guys, but, based on what I've heard from various sources about both of them, money has nothing to do with why they coach or how they do it.
That's in line with the way Beaty and the rest of the staff operate — being able to land guys like this and pay them well is yet another advantage of setting Beaty's base salary at $800,000 — and this video from one of Cal's spring practices in 2013 shows you exactly what kind of guys KU is getting for that dough.