Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin ‘Struggled’ with Criticism After Pursuing Auburn HC Job

Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin ‘Struggled’ with Criticism After Pursuing Auburn HC Job

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMarch 25, 2023

Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin before the start of the 2022 TaxAct Texas Bowl football game against Texas Tech Wednesday Dec. 28, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

AP Photo/Michael Wyke

Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin told ESPN’s Alex Scarborough that he “struggled” with criticism in response to his consideration of Auburn’s open head coaching job.

“We screw up all the time,” he said. “But when you think you’re doing the right thing and then you’re really criticized for it — especially by your own people — I struggled with that because I feel like I went through a decision-making process that you’re supposed to go through.

“I mean, you got to decide. It’s your life and your family’s life.”

Auburn was in the market for a head coach after firing Bryan Harsin on Oct. 31. Kiffin’s name swirled in Auburn rumors, to the point where WCBI News Director Jon Sokoloff even tweeted on Nov. 21 that he was leaving. Kiffin denied the rumor one day later.

Ultimately, Kiffin did consider the Auburn move before telling his team the day before the Nov. 25 Egg Bowl against Mississippi State that he was staying in Oxford.

As Scarborough noted, “Kiffin took his time weighing the opportunity.”

“And during that time, he didn’t make any public statements that he wasn’t going anywhere — a tactic he’d seen backfire with football coaches in the past who wound up going back on their word,” Scarborough added.

Eventually, word got out a few days later that Kiffin was staying, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Chris Low.

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

Sources: Lane Kiffin’s Auburn candidacy had significantly cooled in the last 48 hours. The pull of his family wanting to stay in Oxford had become an obstacle for both sides in Kiffin becoming the next Auburn coach. https://t.co/X4IO95PqMt

Auburn eventually hired ex-Liberty (and Ole Miss) head coach Hugh Freeze for its job. Meanwhile, Kiffin signed a massive contract extension to remain at Ole Miss, per Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated:

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss have officially agreed to his new contract, sources tell @SINow.

The contract is expected to average about $9 million a year in salary and spans six years with a roll-over to seven.

Ole Miss opens the 2023 season on Sept. 2 against Mercer. The Rebels will visit the Tigers on Oct. 21.

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