Tosh Lupoi seems to have a tremendous amount of admiration for Oregon head coach Dan Lanning.

The Ducks’ leading man is just 36 years old and already a Power Five head coach at a major institution, but the climb up the proverbial ladder hasn’t always been smooth. Lanning has dealt with quite a bit already for such a young coach. The Ducks are still mourning the loss of tight end Spencer Webb, who passed away earlier this summer. And when Lanning was an assistant at Memphis, his wife, Sauphia, was diagnosed with cancer.

According to The Memphis Commercial Appeal, doctors first discovered a tumor about the size of a golf ball in Sauphia Lanning’s leg in 2016. She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer that affects fewer than 20,000 people in the United States per year. Lanning missed meetings and practices as needed to be with his family.

This year will mark five years cancer-free for Sauphia.

“(Lanning) truly is a, ‘So what? Now what?’ type of individual,” Lupoi told reporters earlier this week. “He’s been through a lot. There’s been times of humble beginnings. And it’s an awesome story, so I think you see that every day in him. You know that he truly does believe and back up his words, and every day when he talks about demands, what he wants from our staff, that he’s living that as well right there with you.”

When you’re in the process of building a progrum culture the way you want it, no one can be beyond the standard. For Lanning to live that, Lupoi says it helps.

“That’s always awesome when you have a head coach that’s right in the fire with you,” he said. “I think that shows every day, you know, the adversity that he’s overcome from the past. It comes out every day. He demands a lot out of the payers and the staff. And, ultimately, that creates the culture that I want to sign up for.”

Lanning said at the outset of fall camp that his entire approach to coaching changed when his wife was diagnosed. Ever since, he’s had perspective on his why.

“Early in my career, I always wanted to coach at the highest level of football,” Lanning said at Oregon’s local media day. “I feel really blessed and fortunate to be here, but I really just love the game. I love football to another level, and my ‘why’ really shifted back when I got to Memphis. Everything up to that point was really about advancing my career, moving up and looking for the next opportunity to go coach the best of the best. Once I got to Memphis, my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and it really reshaped my entire why.

“Now, I want to be a guy that helps people. We are not here just to have championship football players, we are here to create championship fathers, championship husbands. How do you do that? You model it every day. I want our guys to be able to look at our coaches and say, ‘Wow, that’s a real man.’ And I want them to know what it means to be a real man.”