It's safe to say that there's a lot to talk about when it comes to a conversation with Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning.
With the last time that Lanning met with media members being the Saturday afternoon following Oregon's loss to the Oregon State Beavers, an endless array of things have transpired in the interim. Oregon is now looking for a new offensive coordinator while waiting to see if their starting quarterback Bo Nix is going to return for another year or not. On top of that, you have some players entering the transfer portal, others declaring for the NFL Draft, and a bowl game to get ready for along with everything else.
Lanning med with media members on Sunday night to discuss the endless topics of conversation. Here are some of the most notable things that he had to say:
"First off, we'd like to start by giving coach or Ulmer and the volleyball team a shout-out for their success and making it to the Sweet 16. Obviously, for our guys here, extremely excited for our opportunity to go play in the Holiday Bowl against a really great opponent in North Carolina. I think that's one of the best bowls out there. Certainly, I've enjoyed getting the opportunity to go out there with this team one more time, with this 2022 team one more time and compete. We're excited, you know our guys have kind of got an opportunity here to charge our batteries and really get healthy. You know, that's what a lot of bowl preps at and also we're finishing up academically right now in the classroom. We want to do a good job there of finishing there the right way. With that being said we can open this up for questions."
Question: How do you move forward with DJ Johnson after the incident following the Oregon State game and what is his future with the program?
Lanning: "Yeah, first is just gathering information. You know, we don't want to be a program that just operates based off of what we don't have, you know, and taking a deeper dive into that situation doing some investigating on our end and really on the other side, you know, through you know, through a few avenues, you realize that DJ was in a moment there that he certainly wished he would have acted different but something was said it was pretty extreme to him. That you know, some people might act in a similar fashion so certainly not condoning the behavior. I know DJ wishes he could have that moment. You know, it's an intense situation. You know that those things happen at times and I know that he would handle it differently given the opportunity. But right now he's, you know, he's a guy that has the opportunity to compete and move on in the NFL draft and he's put himself in the position to do that. I think he's gonna take that chance to go to the Senior Bowl, but I don't want to speak for DJ too much. But I think right now he's in preparation for the draft."
Question: At what point did you find out that Kenny Dillingham was leaving and did that give you an early start on the OC search?
Lanning: "I think anytime you try to be prepared for those moments all the time. Right? When you hire really good coaches, you know that you're going to get great opportunities for them down the road. And one thing that I've said from day one as my goal whether it's a player going on to the NFL or a coach in the opportunity to go on and be a head coach. You want those those moments to happen. You want to hire good people and create moments like that for people so, you know, obviously it all really usually these things go really, really quick. I knew that there was always going to be an opportunity potentially for Kenny and there will be for other coaches in the future and our staff, right. We're going to be a staff that has great coaches, so they're going to have an opportunity to get other chances. But that one really happened really quick. Towards the end of the season. It was rapid. But certainly we had a plan in place as we move forward."
Status of OC Search
Question: What is the current status of the OC search and how is it going?
Lanning: "It's going really well. You know, I'd love to sit here and say I can tell you an announcement right now, I'm not ready to be in that position. But we are getting close. You know, I feel that the interest in this job is obviously extreme. And you get an opportunity to be thorough and diligent as you go through that process and looking for opportunities to answer them. I'll also tell you that we have some phenomenal coaches here on our staff that are certainly qualified to be the offensive coordinator here. And that's something that we'll definitely, you know, explore every opportunity here as we move forward and what that will look like. I'm not going to ask anybody to come in right now and call the bowl game. I don't think that's fair to bring a brand new coach and ask them to call the bowl game when there's terminology and some differences there. That being said, you know, Drew Mehringer or Junior Adams, Adrian Klemm, Carlos Locklyn, our offensive staff will prep us. Jordan Somerville will prep us as we move into the bowl game and be ready to, you know, to take on the bowl game and compete with some of that same terminology and things that we've attacked this season."
Bo Nix Status
Question: What is the current status of Bo Nix and will he be playing in the bowl game?
Lanning: "Yea. Bo's a competitor. He wants to get out there and play in this game for sure."
OC for Bowl Game
Question: Who will be the OC for the bowl game?
Lanning: "I think it'd be a collaborative effort with our offensive staff. I think Coach Mehringer, Coach Adams will take on the lead roles there. Again, they've been both been coordinators in the past. We certainly have a staff that's qualified to do that. They've been a big part. I think Kenny would be the first one to tell you that they've been a big part of this process this entire season and the success that we've had on offense. And they'll continue to be that moving forward for us. So I see it being a collaborative effort with the offense but Coach Mehringer and Coach Adams really taking kind of a lead role on some of those things."
Question: How do you bounce back after a tough loss to end the regular season against OSU?
Lanning: "A lot of teams in the nation right now they get an opportunity to go play to get 10 wins, right. And there's not a lot of, you know, not every team that he gets an opportunity to play in a bowl game and this is a great bowl game, versus a really good opponent. I think every one of our guys is anxious to get out there and do just that you play for the love of the game. You play because you love football. You love to compete, and our guys want to get out there on the field do that."
Transfer Portal Needs
Question: What type of positions are you going to be targeting in the transfer portal when it opens tomorrow?
Lanning: "We're going to look to enhance our program in every facet, every opportunity that we get to make our program better. I think we did a really good job this past season of bringing the right people into the program. I want to say we had maybe 10 guys that we brought in, you know scholarship guys that we brought in and and all of them were really big time contributors for us this season. So the goal is to find good people that fit the characteristics that we're looking for in our program, regardless of just position, you know, and certainly you'll look for some positions specific pieces, but I'm not going to limit our search to just a couple positions. We're going to look for guys that make our product better and that fit our culture as we move forward."
Question: You've coached a lot of NFL players. Which Christian Gonzalez declaring for the NFL Draft, what do you make of his time at Oregon?
Lanning: "Yeah, so impressed with Christian. I think Christian is experiencing now what so many of us saw in him when he first got here and what he is as he's a product of a great family, a product of a coach that did a really good job there with Coach Martin in our in our defensive staff, but really also a product of just a great young man. You know, Christian has been elite and everything that he's done for our program. He's worked really hard to earn everything that he's got, and I'm really proud of him. And I know that he wants to be out there competing with his brothers. But you know, sometimes those decisions have to be left to the family members and other people that are looking out for his interest, you know, and that being said, for our program, we're certainly grateful for his contribution."
Bowl Game Opt-Outs
Question: Do you think many other players will opt out of the bowl game other than DJ Johnson and Christian Gonzalez?
Lanning: "Yeah, the landscape continues to change right now. I don't anticipate any others. But that being said, you know, things can change and we'll be ready whoever's ready to go step on the field. We'll make sure we have 11 out there on the field ready to go and compete."
Transfer Portal Landscape
Question: What do you anticipate tomorrow will be like with the portal opening?
Lanning: "First, I guess the thing I would say is I wonder if you could go back five months, however many months this first started, if this is what we wanted. Is this really what we wanted college football to be? And I don't know if that's a reality, right? What's tomorrow gonna look like? I don't know that any of us really truly know. You know, and you want to be prepared for it. As a coach, we prepare for a lot of different areas. I know this that it's as surface level the intent, what the portal was intended to do. There was really a great opportunity for student athletes and now where it's headed. I don't know if that's the case. And I don't know if that's great for college football. That being said, we're going to take advantage of every resource that we have to enhance the program and make us better and it certainly helped us this past year. We're gonna look for opportunities to you know, help enhance us moving forward. So it's been really good to us. We've done a really good job of managing it. We're going to look for the right ways to manage it moving forward."
Bowl Date Advantages
Question: The bowl game was either going to be on December 17 or December 28. How much does the later date give you guys an advantage when it comes to recruiting?
Lanning: "I think there's certainly some benefits. I don't like to live in a world of hypotheticals of what would have been different. You know, there's a lot of things going on for our players right now, too. We're entering finals week, you know, so we want to make sure we're doing a great job in the classroom. Obviously, it's a big recruiting week as well. And really weeks leading up to the 21st as we move forward. But we're playing in the game and the holiday Holiday Bowl and we're excited about it."
Timeline for OC Hire
Question: Do you have a timeline for when the OC will be hired?
Lanning: "Somewhere between now and when it happens. So yeah, it'll happen when it happens. Don't worry, we're gonna coach with nine next year. We're going to make sure we have ten and we're going to be really good at it. I promise you."
Question: How do you balance recruiting with bowl prep with the transfer portal and everything going on in football right now?
Lanning: "Live in the moment right and have good people around you that can help you stay organized as you move forward and always have a plan, right? So go to bed knowing what you're doing the next day. Focus in the moment that you're at right now, but have a plan moving forward."
Plan Until Bowl
Question: What do the next few weeks look like for you up until the bowl game?
Lanning: "We'll get in a couple of practices and we actually got to practice last week. We're going to practice and again, get a couple practices in this week. I'm leaving here for a home visit. You know, we're going to keep it moving. We've got every hour, every minute of each day kind of mapped out and that's the way you have to operate this time, you lean on people that you know that have done it before. And you know, just on the fly so we'll have practices this week. The closer we get to the bowl game, the more we ramp up our players will get a chance to really take a small break right before we leave for the bowl game. We'll come back here again to practice before we leave for the bowl game and we've kind of detail that playing out for our players. But rule number one right now make sure that we're enhancing ourselves, getting healthy and stronger in the weight room, making sure we're taking care of our businesses in the classroom and then when we do get a chance to take the practice field we compete and then as we get closer we'll start to, you know, continue to move to more practices. Right now the focus is really just on Oregon. We haven't started opponent prep yet that'll that'll happen as we get closer to the moment moving forward."
Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire