Late Wednesday afternoon when I saw the thread on FishDuck.com about Alabama’s Nick Saban retiring and Dan Lanning being a “Top Target” for the job, I knew immediately that the worst for Duck fans wasn’t going to happen. I knew not because I have some vast knowledge about the intricacies of college football coach contract negotiations and career changes. I knew because I have a different kind of experience that, in substance, tracks that of the Lanning family.
My wife and I, like the Lannings, have three sons. We married while I was starting my third year of undergraduate at Oregon. Before I finished my BS while maintaining a part-time job, we had two sons. (There was no birth control pill in 1963-64) We moved from Eugene to our home base in Coos Bay for a job, and Jan continued her fine work as a mother and homemaker.
It didn’t take long after that move for me to realize I wanted more from work than I was getting from real estate, so we went back to Eugene for law school, and more part-time work. Then away from Eugene again to start my law practice career, and shortly thereafter the third son came along.
Nine years later Jan decided she wanted more than the challenge of raising three boys and trying, unsuccessfully, to finish up on raising me-so she asked if there was any way we could complete her last two years of college education and get her a teaching certificate? Back to Eugene with two teenagers enrolled in Roosevelt Jr. High, and a little guy at Edison Elementary.
Two and a half years later we were back in Coos Bay with Jan teaching elementary PE, and I returned to a law practice. It was a traumatic time for our family, but we got the boys through school, kept the marriage together and eventually retired. And yes, we found our way back to Eugene where two sons live, and where we will be for the duration.
As he puts it, Dan Lanning has everything he needs to do his coaching job at the University of Oregon in Eugene. But that’s not the most important thing for our Head Football Coach. Dan Lanning and his lovely wife Sauphia, have everything they need to raise their three sons right here in Eugene.
A few months after the Lanning family arrived in Eugene, Sam Finley wrote an article about him for Eugene Magazine and quoted Dan: “I love this environment,” Lanning says. “I also like the culture that is unique all around. More importantly, my wife, Sauphia, is loving this place, as are my three kids. So being here is a real blessing for us.”
Those three sons are of ages close to what our boys were when we uprooted them from their friends and moved to Eugene in 1978, for Jan to attend Oregon. The Lanning boys have established friends for life here in Eugene. They live in an environment that is close together enough that their Mom and Dad can keep track of what is going on in their lives. That’s called parenting, and that extremely complex job is a lot simpler staying in one place, a place like Eugene that is very family friendly.
But Eugene/Springfield offers far more for a young family than a family friendly place to work. Along with an excellent school system and related activities, there are lots of Kid Sports activities and the full panoply of cultural outlets. There are places to swim like Splash, Willamalane, Sheldon, Eugene Swim and Tennis, and lots of places to play tennis, golf, hike, ski, and dip your toes in the ocean with sand beaches only an hour away. On a hot day you can float the McKenzie or Willamette on an innertube.
Eugene/Springfield is a upbeat community, with outstanding medical facilities and well- planned traffic patterns. It’s like living in a big city with all the advantages of being in the country. You can easily hike to coast mountain or Cascade waterfalls in the day and enjoy a concert at the Hult Center that evening.
Compare that to Tuscaloosa, where things look quite different than Oregon. Add in the trauma of uprooting your family and moving across the country, a disruptive adventure they took only two years ago. Dan Lanning is not going anywhere. He’s not giving up what he, Sauphia and their three sons have here in Eugene. He’s just not that kind of guy. No chance, Alabama.
Mike Whitty (Grandpa Duck on the forum)
Top Photo by SportsKeeda
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The senior Mike Whitty, age 84, is not the commissioner for Lane County football and basketball officials, as that is his son, Mike Whitty. A retired attorney, Mike Whitty, Sr., grew up in Coos Bay, and played football four years for Pete Susick at Marshfield High, during the time of the then Big “A” school’s three successive state championships, 1954-56.
A serious golfer, Mike has been the medalist in three divisions of the Oregon Coast Invitational at Astoria G & CC. He qualified and played in the USGA Sr. Amateur at Prairie Dunes, KS in 1995. His education: two years at USAF Academy, 1961-63. Oregon degrees, BS ’65, JD ’68.
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