EUGENE, Ore. — University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens announced the hiring of Dan Lanning as the 35th head football coach in program history on Saturday, bringing one of college football’s brightest young coaches and top defensive minds to Eugene.
“Dan is an outstanding, high-energy football coach who will provide a world-class experience for our football student-athletes,” Mullens said. “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. We are excited to welcome Dan, Sauphia, Caden, Kniles, and Titan to the Oregon family!”
Lanning has spent the last four seasons at Georgia, including the last three as defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach, directing the top defense in the nation in 2021 while helping guide the Bulldogs to a 12-1 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
In three seasons with Lanning coordinating the defense, Georgia leads the country in combined scoring defense (13.5 points per game) and rushing defense (76.7 yards per game), while also ranking No. 2 in total defense (280.6 yards per game).
“I am honored and humbled to be selected to lead one of the premier programs in the nation at the University of Oregon,” said Lanning. “I want to personally thank President Schill, the Board of Trustees, athletic director Rob Mullens, and Mr. and Mrs. Knight for their trust in me. I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work with our players in the pursuit of championships.
“It is clear there is a vision and alignment within the entire Duck Nation. We are staged for success and look forward to building on the strong foundation that currently exists in Eugene. Our goal is to win championships and develop our players both on and off the field. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Coach Kirby Smart and his wife, Mary Beth, and to every player, coach, staff member, and person at the University of Georgia who contributed to our success, I thank you. Go Ducks!”
A two-time finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach, Lanning joined Georgia in 2018 as outside linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator. Lanning first joined the collegiate ranks as a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh in 2011, and has also had stints at Arizona State (2012-13), Sam Houston State (2014), Alabama (2014), and Memphis (2016-17).
Lanning has helped the Bulldogs win three SEC Eastern Division titles (2018-19, 2021) and reach four consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games – the Allstate Sugar Bowl in 2018 and 2019, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in 2020, and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic and College Football Playoff semifinal this season.
Lanning’s Georgia defense leads the nation in scoring defense this season by a wide margin at an astounding 9.5 points per game, on track to become the first team since Alabama in 2011 to allow fewer than 10.0 points per game in a season. The Bulldogs are also No. 1 in the FBS in red-zone defense while ranking second in total defense (253.2 YPG), and third in both rushing (81.69 YPG) and passing (171.5YPG ) defense.
Georgia also led the nation in scoring defense (12.6 PPG) in 2019, Lanning’s first year as defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs led the country in rushing defense in both 2019 (74.6 YPG) and 2020 (72.3 YPG), and they set a school record with an FBS-best two rushing touchdowns allowed in 2019. Georgia ranked third in total defense (275.7 YPG) in 2019.
Lanning has coached some of the top defensive players in all of college football at Georgia. Defensive tackle Jordan Davis recently won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the best defensive player in the country and the Outland Trophy as the top interior lineman, and Nakobe Dean won the Butkus Award as college football’s best linebacker. Linebacker Azeez Ojulari led the SEC in sacks in 2020 under Lanning before going on to be selected in the second round by the New York Giants in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lanning joined Georgia after two seasons at Memphis, where he served as inside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped the Tigers to their third 10-win season in program history and a pair of top-five national finishes in turnovers gained.
In 2015, Lanning helped Alabama go 14-1 and win the College Football Playoff national championship as a defensive graduate assistant working with the linebackers. Lanning assisted a Crimson Tide defense that led the nation in rushing defense (75.73 YPG) while ranking second in scoring defense (15.1 PPG) and third in total defense (276.3 YPG).
Lanning was the defensive backs coach and co-recruiting coordinator at Sam Houston State in 2014, joining the Bearkats after spending 2012 and 2013 at Arizona State. For the Sun Devils, Lanning started as a defensive graduate assistant for outside linebackers and nickelbacks before spending his second season as the on-campus recruiting coordinator.
A native of North Kansas City, Mo., Lanning began his coaching career in 2008 at Park Hill South High School in Missouri, spending three seasons coaching special teams, defensive backs and wide receivers before going to Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant.
Lanning spent his playing days as a linebacker at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., earning two Bachelor of Science degrees in physical education and secondary education in 2008.
Lanning and his wife, Sauphia, have three sons – Caden, Kniles, and Titan.
COURTESY OREGON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS