Will Dan Lanning follow in past Oregon coaches’ footsteps with Year 2 success?

By almost any measure, Oregon Ducks head coach Dan Lanning had a very successful first year in Eugene last season. He became just the fifth coach in Oregon history to notch 10 wins, and the third to do so in his first season with the team.

While there are certainly things that could have gone better — losing to rivals Oregon State and Washington in the same year is never something you want — it’s clear that Oregon fans should be encouraged and excited about what’s to come for the Ducks. Lanning has proved that he has an elite football mind, and his recruiting prowess has continued what Mario Cristobal started in Eugene, bringing some of the best players in the nation to the pacific northwest.

The question going forward will be to see how high the ceiling is in the future.

If you look back through the Oregon record books, Duck coaches have seen some great success in year two with the program. Both Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich made it to the national championship game, while Mario Cristobal won a Rose Bowl. So how will Dan Lanning’s second season with the Ducks stack up compared to his predecessors? It’s impossible to say, but he’s on a great trajectory at the very least.

In order to get a good breakdown, I went back through what I like to refer to as the “modern era” of Oregon coaches. While the Ducks have been around since 1894, a total of 39 head coaches came through the program, oftentimes only spending one or two seasons in Eugene. Until the legendary Len Casanova came along in 1951, no single coach had spent more than 5 seasons with the program. So that’s going to be where I start our modern era. Since 1951, there have been only 11 head coaches at Oregon.

So how did those coaches fare in their second year with the program? Let’s take a look:

Len Casanova

(Kirby Lee via AP)

First Season Record: 2-8 (1-6 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: None

Year 2 Record: 2-7-1 (2-5 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


Len Casanova is celebrated on the Oregon campus with the Casanova Center thanks to his longevity with the program, but the Ducks were unable to find a ton of success early in his tenure.

Jerry Frei

(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

First Season Record: 2-8 (1-5 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: None

Year 2 Record: 4-6 (2-4 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


Jerry Frei saw a bit of an improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, but the Ducks were still unable to make a bowl game or have much success. In his five years at Oregon, Frei never notched more than 6 wins.

Dick Enright

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

First Season Record: 4-7 (2-5 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: None

Year 2 Record: 2-9 (2-5 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


Unfortunately, Dick Enright is one of the rare instances where there was actually a regression from Year 1 to Year 2. Enright only lasted two seasons in Eugene.

Don Read

Otto Greule Jr. /Allsport

First Season Record: 2-9 (0-7 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: None

Year 2 Record: 3-8 (2-5 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


You can probably sense a theme here. Up until Mike Bellotti took over and started to bring the program into the new era, there was not much success for the Ducks, especially early on in coaching tenures. Don Read is another example of that.

Rich Brooks

First Season Record: 2-9 (1-6 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: None

Year 2 Record: 2-9 (2-5 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


Rich Brooks had a great tenure at Oregon over a long stretch of time, but he struggled to make up much ground early in his career with the Ducks. Still, a slight improvement in conference play is at least something to go off of.

Mike Bellotti

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

First Season Record: 9-3 (6-2 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Loss — Cotton Bowl vs. Colorado (33-6)

Year 2 Record: 6-5 (3-5 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: None


Despite all of the success that Mike Bellotti had in his career at Oregon, he actually saw quite a dip in production from Year 1 to Year 2, falling from a Cotton Bowl appearance to missing out on a bowl game.

Chip Kelly

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

First Season Record: 10-3 (8-1 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Loss — Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State (26-17)

Year 2 Record: 12-1 (9-0 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: Loss — BCS Championship Game vs. Auburn (22-19)


This is where the run of second-year success really started for the Ducks. After making a Rose Bowl in his first year at Oregon, Chip Kelly really got cooking with fire in Year 2, leading the Ducks to a perfect 9-0 Pac-12 record and getting a berth in the BCS Championship Game. Unfortunately, the Ducks suffered a heartbreaking loss to Auburn in the natty. Reminder: Dwyer was down.

Mark Helfrich

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

First Season Record: 11-2 (7-2 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Win — Alamo Bowl vs. Texas (30-7)

Year 2 Record: 13-2 (8-1 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: Win — Rose Bowl vs. Florida State (59-20); Loss — CFP National Championship vs. Ohio State (42-20)


Mark Helfrich undoubtedly had the best Year 2 of any Oregon coach, leading the team to the first-ever College Football Playoff and beating the defending champion Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl before losing to Ohio State in the national championship. The Ducks also saw their first-ever Heisman trophy winner with Marcus Mariota in Helfrich’s second year as the head coach.

Willie Taggart

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

First Season Record: 7-5 (4-5 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Loss — Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State (38-26)*

*Bowl game coached by Mario Cristobal

Year 2 Record: N/A

Year 2 Bowl Game: N/A


Of course, Willie Taggart left the Ducks for his “dream job” at Florida State before his first year with the Ducks even ended, leaving Oregon to go into the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State with interim HC Mario Cristobal.

Mario Cristobal

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

First Season Record: 9-4 (5-4 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Win — Red Box Bowl vs. Michigan State (7-6)

Year 2 Record: 12-2 (8-1 Pac-12)

Year 2 Bowl Game: Win — Rose Bowl vs. Wisconsin (28-27)


Year 2 was a great one for Mario Cristobal, where the Ducks could utilize a developed Justin Herbert and a strong defense, going all the way to the Rose Bowl where they defeated the Wisconsin Badgers in dramatic fashion.

Dan Lanning

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

First Season Record: 10-3 (7-2 Pac-12)

Bowl Game Result: Win — Holiday Bowl vs. North Carolina (28-27)

Year 2 Record: TBD

Year 2 Bowl Game: TBD


Of course, we don’t yet know what Dan Lanning’s Year 2 with the Ducks will look like, but things are shaping up nicely in Eugene. With Bo Nix returning as a Heisman candidate and a defense that will likely be much improved from a year ago, the Ducks should be able to compete for a Pac-12 Championship and potentially get a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire