Keith Carter, are you paying attention?
It’s a question most of the Ole Miss faithful are likely asking themselves heading into Thanksgiving. Well that, and what they are thankful for.
Some will say their job during trialing times across the country. Others will mention a loving and supportive family to come to each night after a long day away.
But all of Rebels’ nation is thankful for Lane Kiffin, the man who took the foundation of what Hugh Freeze started and catapulted it to new heights in two seasons.
By Year 3, Freeze has been left frozen in the archives of Ole Miss football while a new chapter is set to begin.
Does it begin with Kiffin at the helm?
The cat’s out of the bag and running rampant on message boards. Kiffin, 47, is the front-runner for the Auburn job after new athletic director John Cohen sent Bryan Harsin packing mere hours after being hired last month. A source earlier this week told The Grove Report that Kiffin is the only candidate at this time, and even preliminary interviews for others in waiting have been put on hold.
Kiffin’s demeanor hasn’t changed since the rumor mill surrounding his status began swirling. In one breath, he’s pondering how a lackluster first-half performance against Arkansas still makes him the top candidate. In the next, he’s trolling reporters and fans via social media on his current state of mind with
A new report, a new retweet. Is a different outlet responding to the rumors? A new article linked to his social media page.
Does Juice have a comment on this?
Kiffin has said over the past month how pleased he is to be coaching the Rebels (8-3, 4-3 SEC). He also has yet to mention his interest in the Auburn opening. Really any opening for that matter.
Hey Keith, are you seeing what the public is seeing?
Kiffin is enjoying what could be his final days on The Grove in preparation to take on Mississippi State (7-4, 3-4 SEC) in the Egg Bowl by trusting that Twitter will keep fans at wits’ end for as long as possible. He’s still opaque when it comes to relaying his thoughts.
Again, Mr. Carter, do you see the lack of transparency left out in the open like a 12-point buck at dawn? Even the most inexperienced hunters can there's an open shot.
Kiffin might be satisfied sticking around for another season in Oxford. The talent's in place for instant success come 2023. Outside of a road trip to Tuscaloosa to spend the weekend with Saban’s other patriarch figure Nick Saban, the schedule bodes well for potentially a run at the SEC West title.
But money talks. It’ll always have a voice at the dinner table of pros and cons.
And Auburn? It’s a small-town feel with big city pockets from a cascade of boosters ready to write checks that’ll cash in an eventual national title.
So Keith Carter, do you understand what needs to be done?
Carter gambled on Kiffin’s nonchalant yet charismatic persona to take over for Matt Luke almost three years to the date. Would it rub people the wrong way? Sure, but find another offensive mastermind with SEC experience and a knack for elevating teams with upside.
The result? Three consecutive top-25 offensive finishes, a revamped persona on the recruiting trail, countless proven talent coming to #TheSip via the transfer portal and a New Year’s Six bid.
Oh, and did anyone else forget that Ole Miss finished with 10 regular-season wins for the first time in program history under Kiffin?
Not Freeze. Not Tuberville. Not Brewer. Not Vaught.
Only Kiffin could go toe-to-toe with some of the best on the field and win. Only Kiffin could rank third in wins since 2020 behind the grandfather of the SEC and his successor. And only Kiffin could make Ole Miss a viable threat in the SEC for years to come.
A gamble by Carter indeed. The table’s still hot.
Double down on Kiffin again.
The biggest regrets in most people’s lives aren’t the risk they took, but rather the ones they didn’t. Folks lying on their deathbeds aren’t pining over moments when they could've been brave enough to make the jump.
Usually, they’re reflecting on what could have been instead of what was.
It would be foolish for Cohen not to consider Kiffin simply because of his brash personality that rubs ole-timers and college football purists the wrong way. It'd also be wrong for Carter to stand idle and watch a division rival poach his program’s coach for a second time.
Carter played basketball for the Rebels from 1995-1999. Does anyone remember who stood on Ole Miss’ sidelines? Where he did land 48 hours after pledging his commitment to the Rebels future?
How’s that pine box treating you, Senator Tuberville? Still ready to be launched out of the city limits in it?
If money talks, make Kiffin an offer. A legit one, too. Not just one promising more money, but also one promising legitimate magnifications to the program’s facilities and its resources.
Don’t think the Kiffin hasn’t earned a pay raise and then some, either, regardless of state laws factoring into the length of the contract. Other coaches recently have been paid and promised upgrades to their respective facilities in the new future.
Kansas made sure to keep Lance Leipold in Lawerence through 2029 instead of letting him walk to Big Ten country following the first .500 season since 2009. The Jayhawks are also investing $300 million in their football complex which should be completed no later than 2025.
Kalen DeBoer, a late bloomer in the Nebraska search, was given an extra year and a pay bump at Washington following a 9-2 start to his tenure. Washington has spent millions in recent years to compete with programs like Oregon and USC in terms of resources for its players.
If programs outside the conference where “It Just Means More” can make advantageous offers, why can’t Ole Miss?
Why shouldn’t Ole Miss?
Three days before kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway for year-long bragging rights in the Magnolia State, Kiffin posted a photo of him reading a book on the Egg Bowl. Perhaps it’s nothing more than another troll job by college football’s most equivocal coach enjoying his closing hours in a place he’s called home for three years.
Perhaps it isn’t. Maybe Kiffin’s cryptic messages are a sign to those looking to keep him around long-term. Perchance, maybe it’s what Kiffin wants all along.
So again, Keith Carter, are you paying attention?
You can follow Cole Thompson on Twitter @MrColeThompson
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