A bright tongue and a slight smile Lynn Kevin Flashes on Saturday night and again on Monday did not slow the restless heartbeat of Oxford or Auburn.
The Ole Miss coach is a hot commodity, even after losing three of his last four and most recently a frustrating blast in sub-freezing temperatures at unranked Arkansas. Auburn remains high in its search for a head coach, industry sources tell 247Sports, and the clock is ticking as we approach the final week of the regular season.
Kevin has twice reaffirmed his happiness at Oxford and made jokes about his candidacy at Auburn, but is yet to make a verbal commitment to the Rebels, who reportedly offered him a new contract last week. Monday’s latest humorous soundtrack was a drag from the former Ole Miss coach Tommy Tubervillewho infamously said he would only leave Oxford at a “pine box” in 1998. After forty-eight hours Tuberville withdrew to Auburn.
“I am very happy here. The difference is where that program is compared to where it was three years ago, Kevin said on Monday, and we feel like we’ve got really good support. “I can stand here and make a pine box speech and (Nick Saban‘s) “I’m not going to be the next coach at Alabama.” I can give you these things. I don’t know what that means. I was here for three years and was lucky enough to get three different contracts. I don’t know why a Fourth decade Makes people feel better. Like I said, we value everything here.”
Still, business is business. He knows better than to stick to something in the world of circuit training. What he could do to calm the crowd is re-work with Ole Miss, just like fellow Kentucky star Mark Stoops.
Instead, Kevin makes jokes and leaves everyone on edge. It’s a business decision, sure, especially if Auburn can use leverage to better the deal on the table at Ole Miss — and vice versa — but it’s no joke. Simply put, not even beloved Lynn Kevin It can be in both directions.
“I don’t know those things over there – first things,” Kevin joked Saturday night after losing 42-27 at Arkansas. “Maybe if [Auburn] I watched the first half, I won’t be No. 1 anymore.”
The Auburns may have heard the Arkansas fans inside Razorback Stadium chanting “Auburn” for Kevin with less than two minutes left in the third quarter as well.
Kiffin’s comments have been dissected and interpreted in many different ways on message boards, and you can imagine the overreactions, especially with Kiffin’s humor shrouding a topic as serious as the health of two SEC football programs. The Ole Miss Kiffin players did not ask about the rumors and Kiffin did not address the team about it either. Only Kevin knows what he’s thinking, and whether he plans to enter advanced talks with Auburn after the Rebels host rival Mississippi State for Thanksgiving dinner.
Here’s what we know: Auburn is interested in Kevin and Ole Miss wants him to stay for a fourth season and beyond. There’s a lot to like about Kiffin and over the course of two years he quickly became the coach many in the SEC would like to emulate.
Going 18-6 the past two seasons, the Rebels were two wins away from setting the winning streak record, getting 10 wins for the first time in 62 years. The fact that Kiffin achieved this in just three seasons is crucial in the transfer gate era. The fact that he did it at Ole Miss is key to why Auburn needs him. The self-titled “Transfer Portal King” has maneuvered the unknowns of player departures and NIL trades by grabbing top-tier quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and defensive playmakers out of the gate. It’s the incredible gate success rate—the class of 2022 is second in the country—that has made it easy to imitate but hard to imitate. Auburn simply couldn’t miss this hire, not with its low talent level and at least 22 other players leaving this season, including the entire offensive line. The Tigers could face rebuilding the biggest roster in college football in 2023, and this is an excellent opportunity for a coach to build a roster to his standards via the transfer portal..
The talent left at Auburn isn’t enough, though there are some superstars like running back Bigsby tank And the Jarquis Hunter… Thirty-one players left Auburn during Brian Harsin’s 22-month stint on the Plains. The roster as it stands now is not one that will make it to the bowl game in 2023. They need help. Not only do the Tigers need fresh bodies along the offensive line, they also need immediate help on the defensive line, a dynamic quarterback and a complete reload at receiver to compete in the explosive SEC West.
With more departures sure to come when the transfer portal opens on December 5, the next Auburn coach will need not only a history of success in the gate, but also a ready-to-go plan designed just for Auburn’s needs.
College football is no longer about the coach’s feelings, motivational speeches, or good and bad practice habits. It’s a numbers game. Coaches want the highest ranking in off-season recruits and transfers, and those with the most talented rosters usually compete for conference titles. On game days, coaches turn to analytics rather than intuition to guide decisions in crucial situations.
Kevin does both.
He has adapted and embraced philosophies and made them pillars of his program as college football has been transformed by recruiting rule changes in 2020. His foray into analytics is well known and criticized, but mostly successful (and likable to fans). The Rebels set the FBS record with 49 fourth-place attempts in 2021 and have won 10 games. Off the field, analytics shapes his gate staffing process. Do I need a tight end with more value as a pass catcher on second and long or one with a better success rate as an rim blocker on second and third? View the data and allow it to inform and guide the final decisions.
Kevin is aggressive and unapologetic about this approach, and he’s not afraid to bend convention.
“It’s not easy. Like anything, if it was easy, everybody would do it. I get it. A lot of coaches don’t follow the analytics because it’s too hard for or for that press conference afterwards,” Kevin said in May. This stadium turns on you when it’s not working.”
Surely someone – maybe just Kevin – has crunched the numbers and weighed whether becoming Auburn’s head coach is beneficial in 2023 and also in 2030. Four of the last five coaches have won the national title, coached in a national title game or posted an undefeated game record . season. Only Harsin has failed in his 21 games on the sidelines.
Ole Miss is one of only four programs that have never reached the SEC championship since its inception in 1992. The Rebels won the SEC title in 1963 and have not finished a season undefeated or in the national championship race since 1962.
This does not mean that Ole Miss is incapable of greatness. Kiffin is doing things that haven’t been done before at Ole Miss, so maybe he’s just the coach who will change course and put the Rebels at the helm of the SEC. There is also loyalty to consider. The Rebels brass gave him a second chance as an SEC head coach after he reinvigorated his career as FAU coach and Saban offensive coordinator at Alabama.
Kiffin will analyze the pros and cons – and yes, which NIL combination is best to help attract players – but he’ll ultimately bet himself if Auburn (or others) calls. The most appropriate place for him to think about it, and while that decision will be counted, many will describe it as bizarre. In the end, he will still be as successful as the analytical directed calls he makes in the fourth stages and in the conversion gate.
Brandon Marcelo is a national college football reporter for 247Sports. You can follow him on Twitter (@bmarcello).