Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier was named the head coach at Louisiana on Friday, meaning athletic director Ray Anderson's vision for ASU's program in the wake of Todd Graham's firing isn't going according to plan.
Herm Edwards, the Sun Devils' new head coach, announced later Friday that Napier would be replaced by Rob Likens, who spent the past season as ASU's co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Likens will also serve as quarterbacks coach, Edwards said.
"There was no doubt in my mind that Rob Likens was the man we needed to step up and fill this role as offensive coordinator," Edwards said in the school's release. "Coach Likens provides much needed consistency and stability as we continue to build our staff."
Anderson was adamant that the program was headed in the right general direction but would benefit from a change in leadership at the top when Graham was fired last month after six seasons at the school. Graham was out, but whoever came in to replace him would be expected to keep Napier and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.
Napier's departure comes three days after Arizona State announced that Bennett will leave the program after its game against North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 29.
"I've made it very clear to both of those guys that we want them to have the opportunity to come back, and any head coach that comes in here and doesn't see that value is not the guy for us," Anderson said last month. "And so it's not a situation where we need to clean house and start over. [Quarterback] Manny Wilkins doesn't need a fourth coordinator in four years. That will not be our direction."
Roughly three weeks later, both Napier and Bennett have moved on. Edwards is still without a defensive coordinator just days before the early signing period opens on Dec. 20.
"I wish Bill nothing but the best in his coaching career," Edwards said in a statement. "I can assure all Sun Devil fans that I am working diligently on hiring a coaching staff that will fit what we are trying to accomplish at ASU, led by incredible senior quarterback Manny Wilkins. Assistant head coach and running backs coach John Simon and co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Rob Likens will be a part of my staff going forward."
A day after Edwards was introduced in Tempe, he announced Napier, who spent one season as ASU's offensive coordinator, was promoted to associate head coach.
"While I would have liked for defensive coordinator Phil Bennett to remain on the coaching staff, I do appreciate the fact that he has chosen not to stay based upon family reasons," Edwards said. "Family always comes first, and right now he needs to turn his attention to that. My top priorities right now going forward are to solidify our recruiting class and to assemble a defensive coaching staff. Both objectives are moving along quite well."
Edwards was reportedly interested in Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs to replace Bennett, but Gibbs received two-year contract extension Thursday to remain in Lubbock.