Oregon Ducks a Recruiting ‘Shark’, but Only If They Stay in the Pac-12 Long-Term


In the last decade-plus, Oregon Ducks football has become a household name in recruiting circles.

Coach Dan Lanning and his staff have continued the recruiting momentum built by former coach Mario Cristobal. The Ducks’ 2022 recruiting class ranked 13th nationally per 247 sports and their 2023 class ranks ninth.

Josh Pate, CBS Sports HQ host of “Late Kick with Josh Pate”, called the Ducks a “total shark in a lake” in recruiting, especially if they stay in the Pac-12 long term.

Unsubstantiated rumors have long speculated that Oregon might one day join the Big Ten Conference. The move remains highly unlikely and a rumor at this point. But Pate said even if the hypothetical move someday came true, Oregon could hang with Michigan and Ohio State on the recruiting trail.

“The day they stepped in the Big Ten they would be one of the premier national recruiting brands in that conference,” Pate said. “There would only be one, maybe one, in Ohio State, that touches them in terms of national recruiting presence.”

Pate points out that of Oregon’s current 13 verbal commits for the 2024 class, nine come from different states from all parts of the country.

But a shark in a lake? Even in the Big Ten?

John Canzano isn’t fully buying it.

“I’m going to use this as a chance to talk about why Oregon probably shouldn’t go to the Big Ten or even be interested in the Big Ten,” Canzano said on 750 The Game. “A: The Ducks would have to join at a lower distribution number than their peers. So yeah, even though they’re recruiting at a high level, they’re going to get less money than their peers in the Big Ten Conference. Oregon’s media value is somewhere around $35-38 Million. The Big Ten Conference presidents and chancellors and athletic directors are not going to subsidize Oregon and say ‘Hey, come on in here and come kick our butt.’

“B: Again, you’re a so-called ‘shark in a lake’ in the Pac-12? You’re not in a lake in the Big Ten. You’re in the ocean. It’s saltwater. Michigan’s in there. Ohio State’s in there. Penn State’s in there. Guess what — USC’s in there now, too. And they’re recruiting Los Angeles as well as anybody. You’re now no longer in a lake. You’re in saltwater.”

Canzano says there is no move that suits Oregon better than simply staying put.

“Oregon is much better off in the Pac-12 Conference,” Canzano continued. “If I’m Oregon, I stay right where I am. Hell if you’re Oregon, you probably hope the four corner schools leave so you can be in a six-team conference — you make the playoff every year.”

Of course, it’s great to win recruiting wars. But translating that success to winning conference championships and earning College Football Playoff berths is a different challenge, and is the next step for Dan Lanning in Eugene.

“Dan Lanning is doing a really good job recruiting. Now he’s got to coach, though,” Canzano said. “This season I need to see defensive identity. I need to see a defense that’s flying around. That isn’t fun to play against. That makes adjustments. I didn’t see that last year. I saw a defense last year that was very forgiving and fun to play against. Oregon State had a lot of fun playing against Oregon’s defense. Washington had a blast playing against Oregon’s defense. That can’t happen, that can’t continue this season. He’s got the talent. Now he’s got to coach them.”

Listen to the full segment including Canzano’s and Pate’s comments on the Ducks recruiting muscle at the 1:14:30 mark of the podcast below. Listen to John Canzano deliver the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.