Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin game planned for a game at Arkansas on Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).
That is, while he wasn’t life planning for a possible move to Auburn (24/7, Soap Opera Network).
On Thursday, word leaked that Ole Miss’ money powers that be went into a two-minute offense to try to keep Kiffin away from Auburn, which is in its fourth coaching search in 14 years. Statewide radio show host Richard Cross of Sports Talk Mississippi broke it.
Kiffin is already No. 11 in the nation in college football coach salaries at $7.25 million a year. The plan is to inch him up closer to the top five. Georgia’s Kirby Smart currently leads the way at $10.25 million, followed by USC’s Lincoln Riley at $10 million, Alabama’s Nick Saban at $9.75 million and LSU’s Brian Kelly and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker at about $9.5 million apiece.
As importanly, Ole Miss’ Name, Image & Likneness collective forces are busy sweetening that pot, too. There’s still time.
We will likely know for sure by Turkey Day, or shortly after. The No. 14 Rebels (8-2, 4-2 SEC) host Mississippi State (6-4, 3-4) on Thanksgiving (7 p.m., ESPN) in the Egg Bowl, which could be the Golden exit for Kiffin.
Don’t do it, Lane. You could lay a big egg at Auburn.
Yes, you’ll make more money at Auburn. Yes, Auburn has much more money to spend on football than Ole Miss because their booster army chooses to and they have it. And there will be much better NIL deals for you to use in recruiting.
But it’s still Auburn. You’ll still be sailing on a second level ship. Auburn is a better job than Ole Miss, but not that much better. It is not a great enough job for you to leave Ole Miss. It would be too lateral of a move, particularly in the long run.
Florida or Miami would have been great landing spots last year, but they weren’t interested. You still have too much baggage, but you’re doing a good job of distancing yourself from that. Keep it up, and it will happen. But Auburn shouldn’t be happening for you. It’s not good enough.
There have been brief periods where Auburn was better than Alabama, but most of the time throughout history, Alabama is No. 1 in the state. There may even be a portal – pardon the pun – in which you could possibly take over the state after Saban leaves, but even that’s iffy, knowing Auburn’s history. You can virtually always be No. 1 in Mississippi.
Tommy Tuberville left Ole Miss for Auburn after the 1998 season, and he was No. 1 in Alabama for several years. Then Alabama finally made the right hire – Saban. And Tuberville was gone two years later.
Auburn Has The Money, But That Hasn’t Helped
Word is, you won’t get the Alabama job after Saban leaves. But that could change. This is a school that hired Mike Dubose and Mike Shula. So, you never know. But you’ll never get it, coming from Auburn.
It is difficult to recruit Auburn with Alabama to its west, Georgia, which is the new Alabama, to its east and Florida and Florida State to its south. It’s difficult to recruit at Ole Miss, too, with LSU next door, and Mississippi State in your backyard. So, you’re not bettering yourself in recruiting by the switch to Auburn – outside of the NIL situation.
And you’re not that great of a recruiter anyway.
But the schools with the most money frequently do not win the most – even in this time of NIL. Texas A&M has all the oil money in the booster world, and the Aggies (3-7, 1-6) are a joke right now with all their talent. They’ve been mostly average under coach Jimbo Fisher for five years.
And Texas A&M has always had money – long before NIL. And it has not won big since The Great Depression. The Aggies’ last national championship? 1939.
Texas has always had the most money, too, and the Longhorns’ 2005 national title was their first since freakin’ 1970! Since 2010, Texas’ average record is 6-6. The Longhorns are on their third coach since 2014 and are 6-4.
Ole Miss Has Been Better Than Auburn
Auburn has had one 10-win campaign since the 2014 season. Lane, you’re about to have your second straight at Ole Miss. If you and your staff can recruit better and evaluate your transfers better, you’ll have a better chance of winning the West in 2023 and ’24 at Ole Miss than you will at Auburn.
Wait a year. There is an excellent chance that Texas A&M has an opening at about this time next year. Now, that would be a move up. And you could be No. 1 in a state where that means something. Or wait a week or two, and there is an excellent chance that Texas A&M has an opening.
Then, all these things you love to whine about when you need an excuse after gettiing out-coached (see LSU and Alabama this year)- a small stadium, lack of resources – will all just go away. The NIL money will flow like oil, or Texas Tea. And you’ll have to put your mouth where your money is – closed like a vault.
Win a few seasons at A&M, Lane, and you can get what you really want – that NFL job that you deserve another crack at with a real franchise – not the Raiders. I can’t believe you already have not gotten an NFL job, considering some of the coaches not as good as you who have – Kliff Kingsbury, Dennis Allen, Jeff Saturday, to name a few.
Or stick at Ole Miss and keep the offense and the double-digit wins going, and you’ll win the Rebels first SEC West title soon. Then somebody better than Auburn will come around.