Canzano: Humility is good medicine for a coach (and us all)
Candid and authentic... wins every time.
I don’t need Dan Lanning or any other college football coach to be perfect. They’ll make mistakes. But what I do need is for them to appear human afterward.
Can we take a moment to appreciate Lanning’s authentic act in the wake of Oregon’s 37-34 loss to Washington on Saturday night?
Lanning lost to the Huskies, but delivered a perfectly human performance in the post-game news conference. Then, doubled down on Monday evening, when he offered: “There’s so many things I wish I could go back and do different.”
I figured a first-year, first-time head coach would get some things wrong in his first season. I remember Chip Kelly fumbling disciplinary issues early in his tenure. Also, Mario Cristobal botched his clock management a few times. Neither admitted they were wrong. Lanning said on Monday that there were “probably 10 plays I would have played a lot different.”
I relate to that.
Bet you do, too.
Oregon should have punted on fourth down and 1 from its own 34. Or at least Lanning should have called timeout and assessed his options. Also, he shouldn’t have onside kicked earlier in the game. Decide for yourself what his eight other errors were. But I appreciated his comments in the wake of a disappointing defeat.
Lanning owned the loss.
He spoke candidly and with humility.
“There’s so many things I wish I could go back and do different,” he said. “There were some moments where I feel like I got a little selfish, looking for something that I felt like was there and really it wasn’t. Medicine doesn’t always taste good. That’s one thing we talked with our players about today — there was a lot of coaches drinking medicine yesterday in that office.”
Coaches can be difficult. Some of the same things that make them successful also make them a pain to deal with, particularly after a loss.
They’re control freaks, who claim to be process-oriented. They often struggle to admit mistakes. The ball is spherical. The players are age 20-something and unpredictable. Outcomes are dicey. The process is all they can trust and so they do. It was refreshing to hear Lanning — the youngest Power Five Conference head coach — admit he’d have done some things differently.
Now, let’s see if he does.
Some other stuff…
• OREGON: Dan Lanning refused to give a health update on quarterback Bo Nix and center Alex Forsyth. He prefers to leave this week’s opponent (Utah) wondering. But on Monday evening Lanning said: “We came away dinged in that game… I feel a lot more positive today getting to hear some news on where we’re at right now.”
Oregon is still in control of its destiny. A Rose Bowl berth is still on the table. That would be a big success in year one for Lanning.
• OREGON STATE: The Beavers have some injuries they are not talking about as well. Linebacker Jack Colletto, offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga, defensive backs Jaydon Grant and Alex Austin, and running back Jam Griffin all left the Cal victory with injuries.
Coach Jonathan Smith said on Monday that none of the injuries was season ending. However, one OSU player was hospitalized after the game, per a source. This week’s game at Arizona State may feature new faces in the starting lineup. OSU needs to beat ASU this week, but also get healthy for the regular-season finale vs. rival Oregon at Reser Stadium on Nov. 26.
The Beavers still have a nine-win regular season on the table. Talk about progress. Smith inherited a program that had very little talent and no momentum. Gary Andersen quit on OSU, midseason. Smith was hired and went to work. He transformed that mess in a way that has Oregon State ready to play the role of possible Pac-12 title contender next season.
• HOT TICKET: The rivalry game once known as the “Civil War” is going to be a hot ticket. Want two lower-level tickets between the goal lines? How’s $315 a pop on StubHub sound?
Reser Stadium’s capacity during the renovation is 26,407. That is contributing to the supply-demand issue. After the west side renovation is completed, the stadium capacity will be 36,000. A high-profile OSU donor who bought premium seats and toured the construction site told me this week: “I think they got it right. It’s going to be special.”
• BOWLING: Looking for some clarity on the Pac-12 Conference bowl lineup? I have you covered.
Here’s the Pac-12’s bowl line-up:
The Holiday Bowl and Las Vegas Bowl can pass on Team No. 2 in the Pac-12 standings and take Team No. 3 instead as long as there is not more than one game difference in the conference records. The Sun Bowl and LA Bowl must take the No. 4 and No. 5 teams.
We’re currently 48 days away from the Rose Bowl (Jan. 2). There are seven bowl eligible teams in the conference — USC, Oregon, Utah, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State and Washington State. Arizona (4-6) must win its final two games (home vs. Washington State and home vs. Arizona State) to get bowl eligible.
• UTAH: Kyle Whittingham is again a solid candidate for the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. He’s managed a roster that is rife with injury this season. If the Utes win out (at Oregon and home vs. Colorado) they will again go to the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas.
Jon Wilner and I took a stab at the Pac-12 Coach of the Year candidates in our most recent podcast episode. We disagreed, of course. Give it a listen:
• DECISION DAY: The UC Regents will decide UCLA’s fate later this week. Will the Bruins leave for the Big Ten? Or reverse course? I think there’s a 90 percent chance UCLA is gone. That’s up from my 98-percent projection a couple of months ago.
The Big Ten’s media rights distributions were grossly inflated when they were initially released this summer. The real distribution figure is an annual average of $62.5 million, per school, less than the $72 million or $80 million figures that were originally leaked.
A source also tells me the Pac-12 asked media-rights bidders to present figures that included UCLA as part of the conference. Not USC. Just UCLA. If the UC Regents penalize UCLA, does the move still pencil out for the Bruins?
I’ve been kicking around some questions with lawyers in the meantime. Among them: How fast would the Big Ten file a lawsuit if UCLA reversed course? Would Cal — a member of the UC system — decide to sue UCLA if it leaves? (Meaning, can the UC system sue itself?) Or would the 10 remaining Pac-12 members or the bond holders of the UC system file a lawsuit against UCLA?
The lawyers win.
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