Oregon finalizes football coach search, hires Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning, 35

Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning was hired Saturday as Oregon's next football coach, the school announced.

Lanning, who is just 35, has been at Georgia since 2018, when he was hired as a linebackers coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2019. In the three years that he has coached the Bulldogs' defense, it has had two top-10 units, including the best defense in the country this season.

Before landing on coach Kirby Smart's staff at Georgia, Lanning made stops at Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant, Arizona State as a recruiting coordinator, Sam Houston as a defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator and Memphis as a linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. He was part of Nick Saban's staff at Alabama in 2015 as a graduate assistant.

On Saturday afternoon, Ducks players were informed that Lanning had been hired. A few hours later, the school made the announcement via news release. Lanning will be formally introduced on campus at 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

"Dan is an outstanding, high-energy football coach who will provide a world-class experience for our football student-athletes," Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in the release. "He is a tremendous recruiter and developer of talent, and we will continue to compete for championships while providing an environment where our football student-athletes can develop to their fullest potential in the classroom, on the football field, and as people."

Multiple current coaches were linked to the Ducks job, including Cal's Justin Wilcox, BYU's Kalani Sitake and even former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who is at UCLA. Wilcox turned down the Ducks job before Lanning was hired, sources told ESPN, confirming news that was first reported by The Oregonian.

But in the end, Mullens went with a first-time head coach who led Georgia's defense to an SEC East title and a berth in the CFP.

Before Lanning's hiring was announced, but after reports of the hire surfaced, Smart issued a statement.

"We are so happy for Dan and his family. 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," Smart said. "Opportunities like this are a testament to a successful program.

"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. Dan and I are both looking forward to preparing for the CFP."

Oregon was forced to jump into the coaching carousel less than a week ago after Mario Cristobal, who had been in Eugene since 2018, decided to return to his alma mater, Miami, and become the next coach of the Hurricanes, replacing Manny Diaz.

"It is clear there is a vision and alignment within the entire Duck Nation," Lanning said in the release. "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."

The 2015 Alabama coaching staff now features six active head coaches in Cristobal, Smart, Mel Tucker (Michigan State) Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss), Billy Napier (Florida) and Lanning.

Oregon will be coached in its upcoming Alamo Bowl matchup by interim coach Bryan McClendon, who played at Georgia and was part of the staff from 2007 to 2015. The connections don't stop there. The teams are set to open the 2022 season with a Sept. 3 game against each other at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

ESPN's Chris Low, Adam Rittenberg and Kyle Bonagura contributed to this report.