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Clay Helton Out as USC Head Coach; Could Lane Return?

The Ole Miss head coach's former job has a vacancy. Fortunately for Rebel fans, Kiffin won't be leaving Oxford anytime soon.

The USC Trojans said goodbye to head coach Clay Helton on Monday after a 42-28 loss to their unranked rival, the Stanford Cardinal.

Helton joined USC in 2010 under current Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin as a quarterbacks coach.

Kiffin spent two separate stints as a USC coach. First, he was an assistant from 2001-06 before taking a head coaching job in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Then, after bouncing around to Tennessee, the Trojans hired Kiffin following the departure of longtime coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a vacancy in Los Angeles, Kiffin's name has come up as a possibility to make a second return, which would mean a departure from the Rebels in Oxford.

Fortunately for the Rebels, it seems more likely that Helton joins Kiffin in some capacity in Oxford than for Kiffin to head back to the west coast. 

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Since Kiffin was fired from USC back in 2013, he went on to have tremendous success as an offensive coordinator at Alabama and as a head coach at Florida Atlantic before becoming the Ole Miss head coach ahead of the 2020 season.

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Now, in just his second season in Oxford, Kiffin has led the Rebels into the Top 20 in the AP poll for the first time since 2016 and the program appears to be in its best shape in years.

Kiffin has earned consideration for arguably the highest-profile vacancy in the country right now, but it's hard to see Kiffin leave Ole Miss when he is riding all of this momentum.

Sure, Los Angeles may be a bit more luxurious than Oxford and he might have unfinished business with USC that he would like to resolve, but the Lane Train appears to be staying in Mississippi for a bit.

Kiffin signed a contract extension following the team's victory in the Outback Bowl last season, so it's clear that he wants to be at Ole Miss. His new contract is set to pay him $21 million until 2024, and while USC can likely offer more, there are likely more cons than pros for Kiffin to take the job in LA.

Sure, Kiffin will likely not be in Oxford forever. But for now, it at least looks as though he will be here for the long haul.

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