Dan Lanning begins a new era of Oregon Ducks football a year ago today


365 days ago, the Oregon Ducks started a new era of football with the hiring of Dan Lanning, the former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator who was being made the youngest head coach in the Power 5 conference.

That era is certainly off to a good start, wouldn’t you say?

There were a couple of rocky moments near the end of Lanning’s first season with the Ducks, but from a bird’s eye view, the first-year head coach absolutely was a success during his first year in Eugene, exceeding expectations early and doing a great job to establish a culture at his new school.

Had it not been for an unfortunate injury suffered by QB Bo Nix, and losses to both the Washington Huskies and Oregon State Beavers — Oregon’s two biggest rivals — the love for Lanning would be endless. Regardless, with his recruiting prowess, ability to coach on the field, and obvious love for aggressiveness in his mentality both on and off the gridiron, it’s tough to find many fans in Eugene who are not ecstatic about Lanning’s hiring in Eugene, and confident for what the future holds.

As we did earlier in the month to remember the departure of former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal and look back on what his first year away from Eugene has brought, we wanted to do the same thing with Lanning.

What all has transpired in his first 365 days as the Ducks’ head coach? What were some of his high points, and where were a few of his lows? Here is a year-in review for Dan Lanning and the Oregon Ducks.

December 11, 2021 — Dan Lanning Era Begins

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It came as a bit of a surprise when Lanning was initially hired by the Ducks because he was a relatively off-the-radar target. The initial hire was reported by Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and later confirmed by Oregon reports.

December 15, 2021 — Lannin Brings Kenny Dillingham On Board

The first big hire that Lanning made was to bring offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham to Eugene from Florida State, where he was the OC under Mike Norvell. Dillingham had Al’s worked under Gus Malzahn at Auburn and spent time with Lanning at Memphis and Arizona State where the two really developed a close relationship.

After a year in Eugene, it’s clear that Dillingham was a home-run hiring for Lanning, with the former OC already making the leap to head coach at Arizona State.

December 16, 2021 — Lanning Hits Home Run with Marshall Malchow Hire

(Photo courtesy of Ethan Landa)

It’s a hire that will fly under the radar for your average Oregon fan, but for those who know college football know how important Marshall Malchow is to the program, helping oversee day-to-day operations as well as a large chunk of recruiting operations. As virtually the GM of Oregon Football, Malchow is integral to the Ducks’ success.

December 18, 2021 — Tetairoa McMillan Flips to Arizona

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The Ducks were dealt an early blow in the recruiting world during Lanning’s regime with 4-star WR Tetairoa McMillan announcing that he was flipping from Oregon to Arizona. McMillan went on to have 32 catches for 708 yards and 8 TD as a true freshman with the Wildcats.

December 19, 2021 — Bo Nix Transfers to Oregon

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It feels safe to say that a majority of Oregon fans were skeptical when this move was announced, but looking back, they should have been jumping for joy. QB Bo Nix followed his former OC Kenny Dillingham to Eugene and had a Heisman-caliber season with the Ducks, leading them to an impressive season with an explosive offense. It’s unclear now whether or not he will return for another year in 2023, but if you had told Duck fans a year ago on this date that they would be begging for another year of Nix, I’m willing to bet that many wouldn’t believe you.

December 27, 2021 — Adrian Klemm, Welcome to Oregon

(Photo by Shelley Lipton)

There are a number of coaching hires that Lanning made last year that were really impressiveF and while we aren’t going to make a note of every single one, it’s important that we single out a few.

Adrian Klemm definitely deserves recognition. Lanning convinced him to come to Eugene from the NFL ranks, where he was the OL coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The knack for both coaching and recruiting has been imperative to Oregon’s success this year, where the Ducks had one of the best offensive lines in the nation and have also landed 5-star OT Josh Conerly, among other big-time OL recruits.

It flew relatively under the radar at the time, but Lanning’s hiring of Klemm was easily one of the biggest early wins in his tenure in Eugene.

January 1, 2022 — Head South on I-5, Junior Adams

Another big-time hire that Lanning made was bringing Washington’s WR coach Junior Adams down to Eugene to take over as the Co-OC and WR coach. Adams brought with him a recruiting boom at the position, landing 5-star Jurrion Dickey, 4-star Ashton Cozart, 4-star Kyler Kasper, 4-star Justius Lowe, and UCLA transfer Chase Cota. The Ducks also had one of the best receiving years in recent memory with Troy Franklin excelling under Adams’ tutelage in Dillingham’s offense.

January 5, 2022 — Lanning Makes a Splash with Tosh Lupoi Hire

At the time, the biggest hire that Lanning made was bringing Tosh Lupoi down from the NFL ranks to be his defensive coordinator. While a lot of fans have been frustrated with Lupoi this season because of Oregon’s at times struggling defense, it was viewed as a massive win at the time.

January 8, 2022 — Christian Gonzalez Chooses the Ducks

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It would be hard to supplant Bo Nix as the best transfer player for the Ducks this year, but Christian Gonzalez sure gave it a good effort. Coming to Oregon from Colorado, Gonzalez joined Lanning’s roster and was a lock-down corner that the Ducks desperately needed. He now has declared for the NFL Draft, where he is projected to be a first-round pick.

January 10, 2022 — Lanning Gets a Ring, Gives a Ring

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One of the most impressive things about Lanning’s early tenure in Eugene is that he was building a coaching staff and getting settled all while still coaching Georgia’s defense through the College Football Playoff and to an eventual national championship. After the Bulldogs eventually beat Alabama in the title game, the populate story came out that Lanning immediately FaceTime’d 4-star CB Jahlil Florence, a big-time Oregon target, showing him what was possible if he came with Lanning to Eugene.

January 31, 2022 — Jahlil Florence Commits

(AP Photo/Andy Nelson)

It worked. Just a couple of days before National Signing Day, Florence committed to the Ducks, giving Lanning a win in his first big recruiting battle against Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans. There will certainly be many more to come.

February 2, 2022 — National Signing Day

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After working hard in a limited amount of time since being hired, while also upholding his commitment to the Georgia Bulldogs and helping to coach them to a national championship, Lanning got an early victory during his tenure by signing an impressive 2022 recruiting class to Oregon.

After a flip of 4-star RB Jordan James from Georgia, plus the signing day announcements of 4-star LB Emar’rion Winson and 4-star OL Dave Iuli, the Ducks notched the No. 13 class in the nation, which is incredibly impressive considering the fact that they were ranked in the 80s nationally after Cristobal left in December. Lanning’s team was also named one of the biggest winners of National Signing Day for his impressive haul.

April 8, 2022 — 5-star OT Josh Conerly Commits to Ducks

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When you talk about the biggest commitments that Lanning has gotten with the Ducks, there are a lot to choose from. However, landing 5-star Josh Conerly, the No. 1 OT in the 2022 class, was a statement for Lanning. He made it clear that he wasn’t messing around in Eugene, and the Ducks were letting it be known.

April 23, 2022 — Oregon Ducks Spring Game

Oregon fans finally got a look at Lanning’s first team in the Ducks’ spring game. It gave everyone a glimpse of Bo Nix, the offense that Dillingham wanted to run, and how Lanning was going to do things on defense. Lanning also brought a number of high-profile Oregon alums into town for the game to help build the culture in Eugene.

May 2, 2022 — 5-star WR Jurrion Dickey Commits to Ducks

This was the first big WR commit for Junior Adams with the Ducks. While Dickey was only a 4-star recruit when offering his verbal to Oregon, he quickly burst onto the scene and is now ranked as the Jo. 2 WR in the 2023 class and No. 14 overall player in the nation.

July 8, 2022 — 5-star QB Dante Moore Commits to Oregon

This is probably the biggest commit that Dan Lanning got in his first year with the Ducks. 5-star Dante Moore is the No. 2 QB in the nation and will be the highest-rated QB in school history if he signs with Oregon. For a school that has struggled to develop QB talent in the past few years, getting an elite freshman into the program could be a game-changer.

July 13, 2022 — Tragedy Befalls Eugene

The Ducks were dealt an awful blow over the offseason, with TE Spencer Webb tragically falling to his death at the Triangle Lake Rock Slides just outside of Eugene. Lanning and the Ducks chose to dedicate the season to Webb, and throughout the course of the year, opposing teams would often place a bouquet of flowers at the 4-yard line to pay their respects to Webb, who wore No. 4.

September 3, 2022 — Lanning Era Begins With a Loss

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The Lanning era officially became on the field for the Ducks on September 3 against the Georgia Bulldogs, Lanning’s former team. It didn’t quite go as planned, with Oregon losing 49-3 in Atlanta.

September 24, 2022 — Lanning Picks Up Defining Win With Ducks

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It looked early on like the Ducks were headed for disaster, falling behind the Washington State Cougars on the road. However, Oregon mounted a big second-half comeback and got an early program-defining win in the Lanning era.

October 22, 2022 — College GameDay Gets a Look

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Talk about a good time for the Ducks to perform on the field. With ESPN’s College GameDay in Eugene for the Oregon vs. UCLA game, Oregon put on a show with a 45-30 win, making a big statement in front of a national audience. In that game, Lanning also displayed some highly-aggressive coaching strategies that ended up swinging the game, doing a good job of beating Chip Kelly at his own game.

November 7, 2022 — Lanning Wins over Oregon Fans with Auburn Comments

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There were some rumors buzzing around that Dan Lanning was interested in taking the head coaching job at Auburn, which struck a chord with Duck fans after the way that the previous couple of coaches left Eugene. Lanning was straightforward about it all, stating clearly that he had no interest in leaving Oregon and that he wanted to stay in Eugene for as long as he could, picking up a big win with fans of the Ducks.

November 12, 2022 — Husky Hate Week Ends Poorly

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One of the lower points of Lanning’s first year with the Ducks. In his first career game against the Washington Huskies, Lanning’s team blew a fourth-quarter lead and saw some aggressive decision-making come back to bite them in the end. Of course, a late injury to QB Bo Nix caused things to derail near the end of the game, but losing to the Huskies at home is never a good thing to do in your first season.

November 19, 2022 — A Bounce-Back for the Ages

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After losing to Washington at home and seeing Nix’s immediate availability thrown into question with an ankle injury, the Ducks got a massive win against the Utah Utes at Autzen Stadium. What made the victory so impressive was the fact that Oregon played in a manner that they hadn’t done yet this year; with physicality and defense rather than an explosive offense. It was also a great revenge game for Oregon fans to watch after the way that last season ended.

November 26, 2022 — The Double Defeat Disaster is Completed

Losing to Washington is bad. Losing to Oregon State is worse.

Losing to both in the same season — Lanning’s first in Eugene — is disastrous.

Oregon held a 31-10 lead in Corvallis and looked to be going to Las Vegas for a matchup with the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship. And then the Beavers mounted a comeback for the ages and were able to end the Ducks’ regular season in grueling fashion. This is a game that many Oregon fans want to forget about.

November 27, 2022 — Kenny Dillingham Heads Home

Oregon was dealt a blow quickly after the Oregon State game, with news coming out less than an hour following the loss that offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham would be taking the head coaching job for the Arizona State Sun Devils, his alma mater. After just a year on the job, Lanning would have to find another OC to run the offense.

December 4, 2022 —Lanning Announces Holiday Bowl Present

Some good news came for the Ducks early in December with Lanning announcing that QB Bo Nix was planning to stick around and play in the Holiday Bowl for the Ducks against North Carolina. We don’t know for certain whether or not that means that Nix will stick around for another season in Eugene, but it definitely makes it seem more likely.

December 5, 2022 — Will Stein Named New OC

Almost a year after Lanning named Kenny Dillingham the OC at Oregon, he hired another young up-and-coming coaching star, Will Stein, from UTEP. Stein led one of the nation’s best offenses at UTEP in 2022 and comes to Oregon with a desire to keep up the explosive nature that the Ducks saw under Dillingham.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire



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