There’s one glaring piece of hardware missing from the trophy case of the Oregon Duck football team, and I’ll tell you what it is even though you probably already know: A national title. So when second-year coach Dan Lanning levied a shot at the Colorado Buffaloes during Pac-9 media days Monday, asking what the Buffs ever won, despite the disparity in recent success, it was a little jarring. The rules of the internet dictate that you only get to do that if you’ve reached the mountaintop.
If not, shut up and go sit in the corner.
Ditto if you’ve never won anything as a head coach. Or if you gagged a 21-point lead when you actually had a chance to win something. Or if your school is constantly in realignment rumors themselves.
There are myriad ways Lanning’s words could come back to embarrass him, so let me first give you those words for full context.
“Not a big reaction,” Lanning said about CU’s planned return to the Big 12.
“I’m trying to remember what they won to affect this conference, and I don’t remember. Do you remember them winning anything? I don’t remember them winning anything.”
My initial reaction to Lanning’s reaction is why? Insulting Colorado is banal, relatively risk-free, and misguided. The real reason the Buffs are bouncing is the impending USC and UCLA departures to the Big Ten. This sort of school-on-school violence should be reserved for the Trojans and Bruins, and not a university that’s already defected once before.
There also was this recent Instagram post by Brutus the Buckeye that either alluded to a future non-conference matchup, or a future conference mashup.
There’s been whispers about Oregon and Washington following the California schools to the Big Ten, so perhaps he didn’t want to call the kettle black only to be covered in soot in the coming months. Or maybe it’s because Chip Kelly and Lincoln Riley can defend themselves, while Deion Sanders doesn’t have a full roster in year one of a massive overhaul.
The Ducks won 10 games during coach Lanning’s first campaign as a head coach, and while there were a couple of impressive Ws — taking the Chip Kelly bowl against UCLA, and beating eventual conference champ Utah — the Ducks got destroyed in the season opener against Georgia, and lost to both rivals in games of consequence.
The Oregon State game was really awful, too, as Oregon gave away a 31-10 lead in a quarter and a half to lose not only the Civil War but also a spot in the Pac-12 title game. You’d think an experience like that would be humbling for such a young coach, yet I guess everyone learns at their own pace.
Oregon fans get mad when people bring this up, and scream about 10-win seasons, or a Heisman winner, or Phil Knight, so I held off triggering them until after the last third of this article. The Ducks are without a doubt one of the college football programs of this century, becoming trendsetters both aesthetically and offensively. However, in order to “vindicate” their standing among the sport’s elite, the team needs a national title. (Not really; that’s just how sports works when you let fandom define you.)
The Buffs have a natty, and even though it was decades ago, it still plays in an argument as petty of a card as it certainly is to put down. The Ducks can, and do, have a zillion alternates, but they don’t have a queen of spades to end any argument.
Dan Lanning’s comments were posturing at best and pandering at worst, trying to stifle his smile and get a laugh out of the media Klingons at the news conference. Fucking comedic genius over here. Mind if I give it a whirl?
I’m trying to remember a previous instance when remarks like Lanning’s didn’t end poorly. Do you remember one? I don’t.