Dan Lanning says Oregon will methodically build title teams
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By ANNE M. PETERSON
New Oregon coach Dan Lanning promises to bring a workmanlike mentality with him to Eugene.
"We will be relentless in our pursuit of excellence and we will be built on what we do, not what we say," Lanning said. "Our fans and our alumni deserve a locker room that's full of players and coaches that are proud to wear green."
The Ducks hired Lanning as their new head coach Saturday, less than a week after predecessor Mario Cristobal went to Miami.
Lanning, 35, will be a first-time head coach after spending the last four years at Georgia, the previous three leading one of the best defenses in the country.
After meeting the team Sunday, Lanning was introduced at a press conference that was streamed live on social media.
When asked about his lack of experience as a head coach, he cracked a broad smile.
"Well, I hate to cut you off but I've been a head coach before," he said. "When I was in high school, I coached the third grade basketball team and we were damn good. I mean, we were good."
No. 3 Georgia (12-1) has the top-ranked defense in the country this season and will play No. 2 Michigan in the College Football Playoff at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement that Lanning would stay with the team through its playoff run. Inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann and special teams coordinator Will Muschamp will take over as co-defensive coordinators.
No. 15 Oregon went 10-3 this season and will face No. 14 Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
The Ducks had high hopes this season when a victory over Ohio State put the team in the playoff picture. But losses to Stanford and Utah thwarted them. Oregon fell again this month to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game.
Cristobal led Oregon for four seasons, going 35-13 and reaching the league title game each of the last three seasons.
"We won't shy from expectations. Our goal is to compete for national championships here, but I won't sit here and spend all my time talking about national championships. We're going to be methodical in our approach. We're going to focus on the process. We're going to compete to a standard everyday, the Oregon standard," Lanning said. "We will build on the foundation that has already been established here and we will create those championship teams."
Lanning will be the Ducks' third head coach since Willie Taggart took the job after the 2016 season. Taggart lasted just one season in Eugene before he returned to his home state to coach Florida State. Cristobal was promoted from offensive coordinator to replace him.
Lanning said his time in Eugene has been a whirlwind, and he joked he hadn't called his parents to tell them about his new job.
"I've only been here for for a couple of days and I really haven't come up for air yet," he said. "But it's already starting to feel like home."
Lanning is a Missouri native who played football at Division II William Jewell in Liberty.
He started his coaching career at a high school outside Kansas City before bouncing from Pittsburgh to Arizona State as a graduate assistant. His first full-time job in Division I was with Arizona State and he spent a year with FCS Sam Houston State in 2014.
He had a stint as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 2015 before he was hired by Memphis as linebackers coach in 2016, and Smart brought him to Georgia in 2018.
He was promoted to defensive coordinator at Georgia in 2019. The Bulldogs have ranked in the top 10 in yards per play allowed in each of the past three seasons.
"We were thrilled to receive interest from far and wide and to speak with several candidates who met our criteria. Ultimately, Dan Lanning stood out among the rest," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said. "His commitment to his craft and his profession is striking. From small college player to high school coach, from graduate assistant to recruiting coordinator, from position coach to defensive coordinator, Dan has excelled at every opportunity at six different colleges. What he has done over the last few years with the Georgia defense is beyond phenomenal."
AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo contributed to this report.
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Updated December 13, 2021