Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has been hired as the next coach at Oregon, the university announced Saturday evening. Lanning, who joined the Bulldogs program in 2018 as linebackers coach, has served in the role of defensive coordinator since the 2019 season. Lanning will fill the vacancy created by Mario Cristobal recently being named the coach at his alma mater Miami.
"Dan is an outstanding, high-energy football coach who will provide a world-class experience for our football student-athletes," said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens in a statement. "He is a tremendous recruiter and developer of talent, and we will continue to compete for championships while providing an environment where our football student-athletes can develop to their fullest potential in the classroom, on the football field, and as people. We are grateful for the opportunity to have Dan as the leader of our football program, and we look forward to the positive impact he will have on our student-athletes."
While Lanning will remain with Georgia for its College Football Playoff run, his defensive coordinator title will be shared by Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp for the postseason, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart announced Saturday.
Lanning, 35, emerged as a buzz-worthy name on the head-coaching circuit after serving as the architect behind a stout Georgia defense that leads the nation in multiple categories this season, including defensive yards per play (4.01) and scoring defense (9.5 points per game). Lanning's unit has been the driving force behind Georgia's push to the SEC East title, an undefeated regular season and berth in the College Football Playoff as the No. 3 seed.
The move is somewhat surprising considering the Ducks reportedly expressed high-level interest in Cal coach Justin Wilcox and even entertained a reunion with former coach and current UCLA coach Chip Kelly. But the program appears to have found its man in the defensive-oriented Lanning.
So what are the biggest takeaways from the Ducks' move to hire Lanning? Let's have a look.
A defensive mindset
Oregon burst onto the national scene in the late 2000s with the wildly successful spread offense that relied heavily on tempo. Sadly, the lack of attention to defense played a big role in the Ducks missing out on national titles in 2010 and 2014. Cristobal's defenses in Eugene weren't exactly stellar, but an increased focus on the line of scrimmage has created depth across the board which has made them more of a complete team.
Lanning's Georgia defense is one of the best of a generation, the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama notwithstanding. Can he replicate that at Oregon? That's asking a lot -- at least early. But the DNA created by Cristobal lends itself to even more success on the defensive side of the ball thanks to Lanning's track record. That's likely the reason Lanning earned the gig instead of Kelly. Oregon is currently founded on the line of scrimmage, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Kelly has changed his stripes a little bit and is more old-school than he was at Oregon during his previous tenure. But Lanning's mindset is to punch his opponent in the teeth and then kick those teeth in after he gets done.
All about recruiting
Lanning is widely known as a relentless recruiter with connections all over the country. He is credited as being the primary recruiter for Georgia star linebacker and former No. 1 overall prospect Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith and five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff.
Cristobal made a living luring top-end talent to Eugene, including current defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux -- the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2019 and future first-round draft pick. The Ducks have finished with the top recruiting class in the Pac-12 for three straight seasons, which is a big reason why they have found themselves in the College Football Playoff hunt into November on multiple occasions.
Lanning is also well-schooled on the recruiting structure that Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have developed, which will translate to recruiting success on the west coast.
What happens with Georgia now?
The Bulldogs are headed to the CFP, and all eyes are on Kirby Smart now that he has to navigate through a tricky coaching situation with one of the most important coaches on the staff. Luckily for Smart, he knows exactly how to deal with it. In fact, he was in Lanning's shoes when he stayed on with Saban at Alabama in the run to the 2015 title.
Muschamp stepped in for Scott Cochran as special teams coach when Cochran took a leave of absence, and giving him more of a role as a co-defensive coordinator is a natural fit. Say what you want about Muschamp as a head coach, but he has been a phenomenal coordinator throughout his career. Schumann, the current co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, is highly-regarded within the program and considered a likely candidate to follow in Lanning's footsteps as a rising star in the coaching industry.
Smart can handle this situation because he has experienced it and has helpful options on the staff.