Rumors have been swirling regarding the job status of Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin since the Auburn job opened up on Oct. 31, and those whispers kicked into overdrive during the week leading up to Thursday night’s Egg Bowl against intra-state rival Mississippi State. The Rebels fell 24-22 to the Bulldogs in an instant classic before all eyes immediately turned to Kiffin’s future after the game.
Following the loss, the third-year Rebels coach was asked whether he intends to remain coach of the program in Oxford, Mississippi. Kiffin was pretty emphatic in his response.
“I do,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin went on to address a report from earlier this week that suggested he plans on accepting the Auburn job, and what he told his players when it surfaced.
“I could just easily say that’s between team meetings and we don’t really talk about that,” Kiffin responded. “I just told them that that report — that probably you’re not paying much attention to but your family is — is inaccurate. False reporting.”
Ole Miss Quarterback Jaxson Dart was asked after the game how his team handled the rumors that its coach had one foot out the door.
“I mean, it’s kind of tough sometimes when things are just thrown in your face, you know,” he said. “I feel like as a team we’ve been able to stay together as we can. We really wanted this game because we really wanted to win this game for each other. I thought that as the week went on, we had a good approach, you know just trying to stay together and trying to finish this year out the right way.”
The obvious next question for Kiffin is: Where does he go from here? State law puts a cap of four years on state contracts for employees. Plus, Auburn plays Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week at 3:30 p.m. ET. Is this a case where Kiffin could use leverage to get a new contract from Ole Miss?
“I don’t know. I’ve signed three,” he said (via: 247Sports). “Does a fourth one mean you’re never leaving? I don’t know. I’m much more focusing and worrying about the game than whether you sign another contract. I’m not acting ungrateful for that. Everybody thinks you sign a contract … Well, a year ago you signed the same thing.”
Once the Iron Bowl wraps up on Saturday, more of the focus will turn to Kiffin’s future. He is in a spot at Ole Miss where he can compete for division titles on a rather consistent basis, but Auburn is a program that, at times, has played at highest level over the last decade-and-a-half.