Georgia losing defensive coordinator Dan Lanning to Oregon head coaching job

Marc Weiszer
Athens Banner-Herald
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Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning at the SEC championship game at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Dec. 4, 2021.

Georgia preparations for the College Football Playoff semifinals will come against the backdrop of its defensive coordinator on the move.

Dan Lanning will be leaving to become head coach at Oregon, the school announced Saturday night.

Twice in his three seasons running the Bulldogs defense, Lanning was a finalist for the Broyles Award for nation’s top assistant. He oversaw a unit that led the nation in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and was second in total defense (254.4) for a team that reached the playoffs this season.

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“We are so happy for Dan and his family," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. "He and Sauphia have been an important part of our Bulldog family for the last four years, and we thank them for all they did for Georgia Football and the Athens community.  Opportunities like this are a testament to a successful program." 

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Lanning, 35, will become the youngest power five head coach in the nation. He replaces Mario Cristobal, who was hired by Miami to be its head coach. Lanning will be formally introduced at a press conference Monday afternoon.

"I am honored and humbled to be selected to lead one of the premier programs in the nation at the University of Oregon," Lanning said in a statement. "I'm excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work with our players in 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!"

Georgia plays in the national semifinals in the Orange Bowl against Michigan on Dec. 31, with the winner playing Alabama or Cincinnati in the national championship game on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.

Lanning will stay with the Bulldogs until the season ends, Smart said.

"While he will coach with us for the upcoming College Football Playoff, we will move forward with Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp as co-defensive coordinators," Smart said of two current defensive assistants. "Dan and I are both looking forward to preparing for the CFP.”

Oregon opens the 2022 season against Georgia in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Lanning’s total pay in 2021 was $1.7 million, tied for seventh highest among assistants nationally.

Lanning becomes the second defensive coordinator under coach Kirby Smart to land a power five head coaching job. Mel Tucker left after the 2018 season for Colorado and then moved to Michigan State after one season.

Lanning is the fourth former assistant under Smart to become a head coach — all at power five schools. Besides Tucker, Sam Pittman is at Arkansas and Shane Beamer is at South Carolina.

Smart was asked in November about advice he’d give to Lanning, who was connected to coordinator openings at Texas and Florida State in recent seasons, about other opportunities.

“I don't get into the advice because I think that's an independent decision,” Smart said. “If they asked me my opinion, I'll certainly will tell him what I think because I think that there's certain really good jobs out there and the number one thing is can you get good players and can you win your conference, and those opportunities will present themselves if you just be where your feet are. I tell him to worry about that and the rest to take care of itself.”

Lanning is from Missouri, but spent two seasons in the Pac-12 at Arizona State in 2012 and 2013 as a graduate assistant. He also coached at Sam Houston State, was on the support staff at Alabama in 2015 and then spent two seasons at Memphis before coming to Georgia.

“The grass is certainly not always greener,” Lanning said in August. “And I learned that from watching coach Smart for several years. Being where you’re at, and being successful where you’re at, those opportunities will come."

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