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Early on Tuesday morning, the new head coach of the Oregon Ducks is likely going to wake up with a hangover that is bigger than normal. Who knows, he may have opted to skip the sleep altogether, celebrating the Georgia Bulldogs’ national championship victory over Alabama late into the night. Lord knows it’s earned.
No matter how the morning goes for him, though, at some point in the next 24 hours, he will remove his defensive coordinator cap in Athens, and put on the head coaching headset for the Ducks, metaphorically speaking of course.
The Dan Lanning era in Eugene has officially begun.
While he was hired exactly a month ago to the day, it’s understandable that it feels like Lanning hasn’t taken over the program quite yet. He’s been preparing for the College Football Playoff with Georgia, and obviously doing quite well. But now, after winning the final game of the season, the real work can begin. Lanning has already built his coaching staff and managed to snag a few highly-rated recruits, while also convincing some transfers to go to Eugene as well.
Some Oregon fans may be frustrated by the fact that their new head coach has had split loyalties over the past month. I’m here to say that I think Lanning’s decision to stay at Georgia and compete for a national championship is the best decision that he could have made.
Lanning is now a two-time national champion. The second ring, though, means quite a bit more than the first. In 2015, as a graduate assistant, Lanning was part of Alabama’s title-winning team. This time, he was the defensive coordinator, leading the nation’s No. 1 defense to a championship. Nobody can dispute the fact that he had a major hand to play in one of the best defenses in college football history, one that allowed just 9.6 points per game throughout the entire season.
That’s championship-level stuff, and that championship pedigree is now coming to Eugene.
Maybe Lanning isn’t someone who will wear the flashy rings around often, but when he is on one of his numerous recruiting visits over the next several years, it might be smart to break them out. Flash them on the table to the highly-ranked recruit sitting across from him, and make sure that the parents know how strongly he desires to add a third. Let the player know how close the Ducks are to getting one, and show them how it’s possible if they follow him to Eugene.
Lanning has seen how championships are won in the south, and now he gets to try and replicate that formula up in the Pacific Northwest.
Time to get to work.