Lane Kiffin‘s regular season is over. He’s now got some big decisions to make.
Following a 24-22 loss in the Egg Bowl, Kiffin, regarded as Auburn’s top target in its coaching search, said in his postgame press conference that he intends to be the Ole Miss head coach next season.
“Yes, I do,” Kiffin said postgame when asked if he anticipates coaching at Ole Miss next year.
Kiffin was reportedly offered an extension at Ole Miss last week in the wake of the Auburn buzz. Is there a timeline for him to sign one and remain the Rebels’ head coach?
“I don’t know,” Kiffin said. “I’ve signed three — does the fourth one mean you’re never leaving? I don’t know. I’m much more focused and worried about the game than whether I sign another contract. I’m not acting ungrateful for that. But everybody thinks you sign a contract — well, a year ago you said the same thing, and here we are again.”
Kiffin singled out Jon Sokoloff, a TV reporter in Mississippi, for reporting earlier this week that Kiffin to Auburn was a done deal. Kiffin said he had to hold a team meeting to discuss the report with his players and ensure them he had not been offered the job, let alone accepted it.
“When it was falsely reported by Jon, who is now famous,” Kiffin said, gesturing to Sokoloff, “that you can just write whatever you want, I would do it, too, I think. You’re never held accountable and get to become famous and maybe you’ll be right. Jon did it, so I had to have a team meeting to say his article was wrong. I’d love to know these unnamed sources from Jon. So yes, I had to have a team meeting because of that.”
Kiffin added, when asked what he told the team during its meeting Wednesday night: “I just told them, ‘That report that you’re probably not paying that much attention to, but your family is, is inaccurate and is false reporting.'”
Auburn is expected to extend an official offer to Kiffin by Friday. His agent Jimmy Sexton was present at the game Thursday in Oxford.
During Kiffin’s weekly press conference in preparation for the Egg Bowl on Monday, he was, naturally, asked about his commitment to the program as its head coach. He responded with a reference to Tommy Tubervillewhen the former Ole Miss coach left for Auburn ahead of the 1999, and Nick Sabanwhen he left the Dolphins for Alabama in 2007.
“I can get up here and give the pain box speech and ‘I’m not going to be the next head coach at Alabama,'” Kiffin said Monday. “I can give you those things. I don’t know what those mean. Been here three years and have been fortunate enough to have three different contracts. I don’t know why a fourth contract makes people feel better. Like I said, we’re very appreciative of everything here.”
Previously 2-0 in Egg Bowls as the Ole Miss coach, Kiffin and the Rebels fell 24-22 to Mississippi State on Thanksgiving. Ole Miss was held to a season-low 331 yards of offense and had a season-high six three-and-outs.
Mississippi State looked close to putting the game away, with a 24-16 lead with under 5 minutes and in scoring position, before Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers fumbled on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Ole Miss QB Jackson Dart then helped the Rebels mount a 99-yard drive, hitting Dayton Wade for a 23-yard touchdown with 1:25 remaining.
Dart’s shovel pass was batted down on the 2-point conversion, though, and Mississippi State kneeled out the clock after recovering the onside kick.