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December 11, 2012

Franklin, Likens added to Cal staff



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BERKELEY -- The California football team officially named two members of its offensive staff today under new head coach Sonny Dykes, a day after reports emerged from the Simpson Center that all five assistant coaches who remained on during the transition -- including Ron Gould, Ashley Ambrose and Wes Chandler -- would not be returning.

The Bears announced that former Louisiana Tech coach Rob Likens has agreed to become the assistant head coach/wide receivers coach at Cal, and that Tony Franklin -- Dykes's offensive coordinator in Ruston -- will become the Bears' offensive coordinator.

Likens served as an assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for Dykes at Louisiana Tech the last three seasons, including in 2012 when the Bulldogs posted a 9-3 record and led the nation in scoring offense by averaging 51.50 points 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.

"I have known Rob Likens and admired his coaching abilities for a long time," Dykes said in a statement. "When I had the opportunity to hire him three years ago at Louisiana Tech I jumped at the chance, and he was everything that I believed he would be and more. He has great knowledge of the offense we will install at Cal, and I'm ecstatic that he's decided to join our staff."

In addition to leading the country in scoring offense in 2012, Tech was among national leaders in total offense (2nd, 577.92 yards per game) and passing offense (4th, 350.75 ypg) with a unit that scored more than 40 points in 11 of 12 games and over 50 points on eight occasions. Tech's high-powered offense also committed only 13 turnovers in 2012 to tie for the 10th lowest total in the country, matching its tied for 10th ranking with a +1.08 turnover margin.

"I really enjoy working with coach Dykes," Likens said. "I can't wait until everybody around here gets to meet him. We're very like-minded offensively, but we're also like-minded on how to treat people and lead student-athletes.

"There's not a doubt in my mind that coach Dykes is going to be ultra-successful at Cal because he does it the right way. He makes you want to be not only a better player and a better student, but also a better person. One of the reasons I got into football was the impact you can have on young men. It's fantastic to get to work for a guy who understands the importance of that."

Franklin has served as the offensive coordinator for Dykes at Louisiana Tech the last three seasons, and was a 2012 nominee for the Broyles Award given annually to the nation's top assistant coach and one of four finalists for the FootballScoop.com Offensive Coordinator of the Year.

"Tony Franklin is an innovative and creative mind who is one of the top offensive coaches in the nation," Dykes said. "He's had a tremendous amount of success producing some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I'm excited that he is joining our staff at Cal and look forward to much more success in the years ahead."

During Franklin's second season in Ruston in 2011 he orchestrated an offense that was fundamentally sound and continued to improve weekly on a Louisiana Tech team that finished 8-5 overall and won the WAC title with a 6-1 league record before advancing to play TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. Tech ranked third in the nation with five different scoring drives of over 90 yards during the 2011 season. That precision guided Tech's offensive explosion at Fresno State when the Bulldogs scored 34 points and notched over 400 offensive yards in the first half alone. The offense produced more than 40 points on three occasions and averaged 31.71 points per contest during a seven-game win streak to end the regular season. Patton was among both the top receivers in the WAC and across the nation in both per-game receiving yards (92.46 ypg, 2nd WAC/20th NCAA) and receptions (6.08 rpg, 4th WAC/T28th NCAA), finishing with totals of 79 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In Franklin's first year on Tech's staff, his spread offense exploded into a high-octane mechanism in the middle of the season resulting with the team scoring 34 points or more in four of the final six contests and 41 or more three times. Running back Lennon Creek was the team's top threat, rushing for 1,181 yards and 10 scores on 212 carries. His average of 98.42 yards rushing per game ranked third in the WAC and 22nd nationally.

"I'm incredibly excited for the opportunity to come to the No. 1 academic institution in the country and try to also make it the No. 1 football program in the country, that's our goal," Franklin said. "To be able to do that with Sonny is kind of like a fantasy that started years ago. We talked about it and it's a strange thing, but we both wanted to end up here. I've been recruiting California for a long time and this is where my wife and I wanted to live. It's funny how dreams sometimes do come true."

"This is our last stop, this is where we want to finish," Franklin added. "I have no desire to be a head coach. I wanted to be here to make this thing work for Sonny and give the Cal alumni something they can be proud of. As much pride as they have in their academics, we want it to be the same for their football program. That's our goal."

Under Franklin, 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 in the nation in both categories while compiling totals of 104 catches and 1,392 receiving yards. Patton was also tied fifth in the nation among wide receivers with 13 touchdowns receptions. Overall, Tech's receivers recorded 4,209 receiving yards and had more receiving yards than 28 FBS teams had yards of total offense.

Likens directed a group of 2011 receivers 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 honoree, finished the year with 1,202 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 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.

Likens played collegiate football as a wide receiver at Mississippi State, earning his bachelor's degree in 1990. He earned his master's degree from North Alabama in 1995.


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