Earlier this month, Oregon Ducks football coach Dan Lanning found himself at the center of the college football news cycle once again, this time after being mentioned as one of the leading candidates to take over at the University of Alabama as the successor to Crimson Tide legend Nick Saban.
It was an eventful 36 hours for Oregon Duck fans that ended with Lanning making an emphatic statement online with a video telling the nation that he wasn’t leaving Eugene.
But what went into the decision to stay with the Ducks, and was it really ever a decision in the first place? This past week, Lanning talked about the events in an interview with Ryen Russillo on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, part of the Ringer Podcast Network.
“It was never really a thought in our mind,” Lanning said. “I love Coach Saban, and I can’t tell you how much he’s done for my career and where I’m at, but I think we can make Oregon the best job in college football, and that happens with focusing on where we’re at.”
Ever since Lanning ended up in Eugene at the end of 2021, Oregon fans have been on edge about the possibility of him leaving for a different job. This is understandable after both Mario Cristobal and Willie Taggart used the school as a glorified stepping stone, staying for a short while before taking a job at their alma mater. So when jobs at Auburn and Texas A&M opened up over the past couple of years, fans have been quick to speculate about whether or not Lanning would leave. The same was the case with Alabama, but Lanning says that he’s known since he took the job in Eugene that it would be his home for a long time.
“The decision was made long before the season started, and long before I took this job,” Lanning said. “Oregon took a chance on me, and I truly believe that this is a job that we can make the best job in college football. And when you feel that way, then let’s put some blood, sweat, and tears and some sweat equity into making that the job that you think it can be.”
A lot of coaches say that, and declare repeatedly that they have no intentions of leaving, but we’ve seen in the past that not a lot of coaches mean it. It’s easy to talk, but it’s not as easy to back up your words and prove that you mean what you’re saying. That’s something that Lanning has made a point to prove, not with his words, but with his actions.
“I made a commitment to players,” Lanning said. “People see the commitment publicly, but they don’t see when you sit down on the couch with a family and tell them that you’re going to be here, and what that looks like. Some coaches say that and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. For me, that means something.
“I’m committed to being here. I’ve got a 10-year-old, and I’ve got to get him through high school. The only way that doesn’t happen is if I don’t win enough. To put my focus on something else other than Oregon football, that’s going to be a distraction to us accomplishing that goal.”
At the moment, there’s no reason to believe that Lanning will have trouble winning in the future. The Ducks have one of the top-ranked teams in the nation going into 2024, and they are projected to be in the thick of the Big Ten Championship conversation next year, not to mention a projected spot in the College Football Playoff.
Should either of those things happen next year, or in the near future, I don’t think Lanning will have trouble convincing anyone that Oregon is among the best jobs in the nation.