Canzano: Oregon Ducks and Dan Lanning drive toward second season
How has the UO coach grown?
Dan Lanning’s first car was a mid-1990s Plymouth Acclaim. It was burgundy and had four doors. It previously belonged to his grandparents.
I learned all sorts of little things about the University of Oregon football coach in the run-up to last football season. The Ducks handed him the keys to its most valuable asset. He was the youngest head coach in Division I football when he opened the season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium last September against Georgia.
In the weeks before his debut — a 49-3 loss to the eventual national champions — I spoke with Lanning’s parents at length. Don and Janis are retired school teachers. They still live on the family farm in rural Missouri. They provided a peek into their son’s upbringing.
It’s how I know about his first car and the beat-up Ford F-150 he later drove. Also, how I learned that the Lanning children did their own laundry and made their beds every morning. Once a week, his mother told me, their kids were called upon to prepare the family dinner.
“It might just be hot dogs,” Janis told me, “but they cooked.”
Lanning bounced back from that opening-night beat down and finished with a 10-3 record in his first season at Oregon. He parlayed that into a Top-10 recruiting class. In late July, his contract was extended. A couple of weeks later, the Ducks announced they were leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten Conference.
It’s been an interesting ride, hasn’t it?
The contract extension boosted Lanning’s salary this season from $4.7 million to $7 million. It provided job security and increased his buyout to $20 million should Lanning leave Oregon before the end of the 2028 football season.
His father, Don, told me last summer that he knew something the rest of us didn’t — that his son’s wife and their three boys were tired of boxes and weary with moving trucks. They coveted stability.
“I can promise you that he is planning on serving every minute of his contract and beyond,” Don told me. “He’s not primarily motivated by money. It is crazy what these guys make. It’s astonishing what they make.”
Lanning, now 37, is no longer the youngest head college football coach in the country. That distinction belongs to Lanning’s former offensive coordinator, 33-year-old Kenny Dillingham at Arizona State.
What has Lanning learned since taking the job at Oregon? How will he utilize that in his second season? I asked the UO coach in a 1-on-1 interview.
“You’re either winning or you’re learning,” he told me.