How Dan Lanning Will Trim the Football Roster to 85

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I read the posts on the Our Beloved Ducks forum where the question often was, “we are way over our 85 scholarship limit–how are we going to trim anywhere from six to nine players?” Oregon has to make room for new freshmen who signed up in December and now February, but also the portal transfers. Oregon’s roster has to be at 85 scholarships when fall camp begins, and this is going to be tough to remove from the team some good players.

I am thinking that head coach Dan Lanning is going to take a page or two out of the Georgia playbook, so let’s take a look at those concepts.

We Have to Be Realistic About Lanning’s Early Situation at Oregon

Coach Lanning had a couple of priorities when he arrived, and in my view–none had much to do with establishing a long-term culture. First was trying to rescue as many of Cristobal’s recruits as possible and keep them coming to Oregon, which is a tough sell when a recruit has built a couple year relationship with the prior staff. Next was stemming the bleeding of players running to the portal, as half the offensive line and many of our playmakers were entering or seriously considering leaving Oregon.

When you are selling that hard…you cannot be a tough guy.

At the very beginning, Coach Lanning was trying to make football fun again for players and build strong relationships.

His focus was selling his vision to the recruits and the current team, and he spoke often of building the relationships–those bonds that matter the most with players. The current coaching staff was not even assembled at first, and were effectively strangers to the entire team when they arrived. He had to work like crazy to make the connections between the new coaches and players appealing in many different elements.

Remember the article I wrote titled, Lanning Love: “Football is Fun Again!” where players raved about how enjoyable football at Oregon was again and coming to practice was fun? This was clearly a honeymoon time period where building the relationships was more important than depth charts. I believe that continued through the fall, as the players needed to come to trust Lanning and his staff. It felt like he was building a family vibe, of everyone “getting along.”

Time to Integrate Two New Elements from the Bulldogs

Georgia fans warned me last spring about all the 5-Star players who would come to Athens, and then leave because as they told me, “this is a very hard program.” I wrote an article about it, and recall star players leaving and doing well at other programs and not understanding why they left? I spent some time with Georgia fans, and I believe an excerpt from that article helps us to understand…

“The coaches at Georgia push the players to their limit and make no apologies for it. I was warned that we will see a regular exodus of highly ranked players transfer out each year because they did not want to work that hard. One Bulldog fan explained, “it’s been said by some of our insiders here that Kirby Smart has at times been fine with being the raging a**hole that players can unite against as their common enemy. He also drives his staff extremely hard. Georgia isn’t for everyone.”

Another Georgia fan remarked, “UGA is a pressure cooker that either turns you into a diamond or spits you out.”


We have not seen any of that yet, because had Lanning implemented any of that culture at Oregon in the beginning–he would have driven even more good players to the portal. No, you do this in stages and stick to the most important priorities first that help the team compete in 2022. I believe the beginning of this new tougher culture will materialize in the winter workouts, and I expect Spring Football to be quite the test for many players. As it turns out, there is a portal window opening from May 1st to the 15th where those who do not align with this emphasis may decide to leave.

Dan Lanning will begin to show a different kind of teeth if he follows the Georgia example.

The “De-Recruitment Process” Will Begin…

How do you get 5-Star players to reach deep and strive for their potential? How do you overcome the overconfidence and entitlement that many clearly feel? You may recall I wrote an article about that as well and an excerpt would help…

“How do the ‘Dawgs do it? They refer to it as the “De-Recruitment Process,” and it begins as soon as the new freshman steps on campus. Over the past two years that each high school star had been recruited, they have been told how great they are, how they can make it to the NFL and how they can be an important part of the Bulldog defense. (As every team tells a prospective recruit.) But now the coaches begin to “de-recruit” them, or tell them that what they’ve done back in high school was amazing, but now in Athens their “stars” are now stripped away and they are a “zero-star.”

These players have been stars through their entire football saga, and told from everyone how good they are–and now they are just another player? They could get beaten out by the 3-Star guy who has a chip on his shoulder? Many of these high-ego guys cannot handle the humbling let-down that comes with the “De-Recruitment Process,” and want to leave and go to a school where they can look down on others from their pedestal. It is another explanation why Georgia loses great players on a regular basis.

I believe this physical and mental toughness has shown up on the field for the Bulldogs, (I saw it in September!) and while these two strategies drive away a ton of players–it also creates a winning culture. It is my belief that Coach Lanning will implement these two Georgia components as the next step to building the culture at Oregon, and the “85 player-overage” problem will solve itself by the fall.

Is what I suggest plausible? Give me your take at the forum-with-decorum because…

“Oh, how we love to learn about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Eugene Johnson

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