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Monday Presser: Lane Kiffin, players queried about coaching rumors

Monday Presser: Lane Kiffin, players queried about coaching rumors

OXFORD, Miss. – When it comes to answering the media’s questions concerning a possible new job destination, Lane Kiffin has learned from the past.

In one case years ago, a former Ole Miss coach said he would only leave Oxford for another job in a pine box. In another example, a former NFL coach said he would not be the next coach in Tuscaloosa. Each of those coaches were less than truthful.

Nick Saban said he would not leave the Miami Dolphins to become the new coach at Alabama. Prior to that, Tommy Tuberville said he would only depart Ole Miss in a pine box. About a week later, he was in Auburn.

Saban has thrived at Alabama, but Tuberville was dismissed at Auburn after posting an 85-40 record. He went on to coach at Texas Tech where he abruptly quit to take the job at Cincinnati. The Bearcats’ fired him after four seasons.

Kiffin is the reported frontrunner for the newly vacant Auburn job, but at Monday’s press conference, he attempted to show his content for his current position.

I mean I can get up here and give you whatever it was, the ‘pine box speech,’ and ‘I’m not going to be the next head coach at Alabama,’ and give you those things you know so I don’t know what those mean. So, I don’t know what else to say. I mean, been here three years and been fortunate enough to you know I guess I have now three different contracts, so I don’t know why all of a sudden, the fourth contract makes people feel better, so I guess I’m very appreciative for everything here.

Lane Kiffin

And Ole Miss is appreciative for Kiffin. After a 5-5 start to his tenure during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a bowl game victory, he led the Rebels’ to its first 10-win regular season in school history last year.

This year his team is 8-3 heading into Thursday’s Egg Bowl.

Last week, Ole Miss fell to Arkansas 42-27, and some speculated the Rebels lost due to Kiffin’s apparent new job opportunity. He said he has not spoken to his players about the situation but has discussed it with his staff.

“I’ve asked our coaches, ‘do you think that’s an issue,’ and they said no,” Kiffin said. “Like analytics, we study the past, I mean we played in the last game at FAU in the conference championship and that morning ESPN leaked that we were the head coach at Ole Miss and the entire team knew and went out and won by 40, so the same questions were there the same way we were one play away from beating Alabama so there’s not much analytics to show about player performance.”

The players seem to agree with their coach the open position at Auburn is not an issue.

“No, we really don’t try to pay much attention to it, but just pay attention to our next opponent because that’s the biggest thing,” JJ Pegues said.

The coaches put everything into us and we want to give back what they put in so we don’t really worry about the media or anything like that, we just focus on the next opponent.

JJ Pegues

Pegues was in the opposite position as Kiffin a year ago as he left Auburn for Ole Miss.

The players’ attention to this week is important as a win over State and a bowl victory would give Ole Miss consecutive ten-win seasons.

“We just focus on the game,” Jonathan Mingo said.

We just take stuff one week at a time, everything else, the outside noise, we don’t even discuss that. We just worry about Mississippi State this week.

Jonathan Mingo

While the media may have been caught off guard about the players’ thoughts on the situation, Kiffin was confident in his players’ ability to focus on the task at hand.

“They know how we operate, and they’ve been in this before and so they don’t even ask (about the Auburn job),” Kiffin said.

They know how we do things here and you know, the pro mindset of preparing each day to get better and win. And I don’t know what else to say, I’m extremely happy here like we just talked about the difference in where this program is now compared to three years ago and I feel we have really good support.

Lane Kiffin

The Egg Bowl kicks off at 6 p.m., Thursday.

Steve Barnes
Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.

He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.

A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.

Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.

He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.

Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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