OXFORD, Miss. -- The last 24 hours have been quite a roller coaster for Ole Miss fans.
The rumors about Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin possibly leaving for the Auburn Tigers reached their peak on Monday night when Jon Sokoloff of WCBI in Columbus, Miss., reported that Kiffin plans to make his way to the Plains this Friday after the Egg Bowl.
While Kiffin denied the report shortly after it was released, he has not given a definitive answer about his future plans.
He did, however, inform the team that he had not yet accepted a job elsewhere.
With Kiffin's decision seemingly up in the air until Friday, now is the perfect time to dissect a question that has been circulating the internet since these rumors first surfaced.
Is the gap between Auburn and Ole Miss really as big as some are making it sound?
At a quick glance, Auburn probably seems more appealing than Ole Miss. The Tigers have competed in two SEC Championship games and one national championship since 2010, and according to ESPN's Chris Low, Auburn has "ten times" more NIL money than Ole Miss currently.
While the Tigers have the winning pedigree that Ole Miss lacks historically, the Rebels are starting to turn it around. Since Kiffin was hired after the 2019 season, Ole Miss has turned into a consistent winner, boasting a 23-11 record while Auburn has gone 17-18 in that time.
Auburn is rebuilding while Ole Miss is on the verge of competing for an SEC title and possibly more.
Many also assume that Auburn is miles ahead of Ole Miss in terms of NIL funds, and it is speculated that the main reason Kiffin is interested in the Tigers is because of their NIL collective.
Ole Miss has not been slouching when it comes to NIL, however, as the Grove Collective has surged in membership since October and currently sits at 4,408 members. The Collective set a goal for 5,000 total members by December and Rebel fans have answered the call with Kiffin's future at Ole Miss uncertain.
According to Walker Jones, executive director of the Grove Collective, the collective is in a "really good position" in terms of membership and funds.
Another con for Auburn is its often overbearing boosters. At Ole Miss Kiffin has complete say over who is on his roster and staff, while at Auburn there would likely be a few more cooks in his kitchen.
It took Kiffin two years to turn Ole Miss around and it looks like it will take the same amount of time to right the ship at Auburn.
So the answer seems pretty clear, if Kiffin wants to win now he should stick with the Rebels.
You can follow Ben King on Twitter at @BKing_2023.
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