In college football, Thanksgiving week essentially means three things: rivalry weeks like Auburn-Alabama in the Iron Bowl, Ohio State-Michigan in The Game, Washington-Washington State in the Apple Cup, and Oregon-Oregon State in the old ‘civil war’; it marks the start of the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs; and it brings coaching queries to or close to their conclusions in many cases.
That’s how things stand now at Auburn University, which fired the ill-fated Bryan Harsin midseason and worked to enlist their next head coach in the Tigers’ ongoing, never-ending struggle to escape Alabama’s elephant-sized shadow.
At the top of Auburn’s list was and still is Lane Kiffin, the Ole Miss coach who won a national title as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and in a short span of time flipped both the Rebels’ program and, before that, Florida Atlantic University’s program.
Plus, Kiffin can recruit, he’s proven to be “The Portal King,” with a competitive 8-3 roster that’s been bolstered with double-digit NCAA transfer portal signings between the 2021-22 seasons, and obviously Kiffin knows the ins and outs of Alabama Program from his time as Nick Saban’s offensive play-caller.
Multiple sources continue to tell FootballScoop that Kiffin is the primary target; but Auburn recognizes that anything can happen until a deal is struck. It’s also important to note that despite contract extensions and raises in each of the past few years, after strong seasons at the helm of the Ole Miss program, Kiffin is able to leave Oxford, Mississippi, for a relatively negligible fee in the college football world to leave.
As noted on the FootballScoop podcast, which is updating this and other searches, Auburn’s game plan appears to be: “Kiffin, he’s clearly their number one choice… and I’m not sure who number 2 is. But it’s a big gap.”
Hugh Freeze appears to be the No. 2 contender behind Kiffin, and while he and new Auburn AD John Cohen have never worked together, they spent a lot of time together at Magnolia State when Cohen was at Mississippi State in the Bulldogs’ athletics administration and Freeze was Head coach at Ole Miss. Some believe that the shared history hindered Freeze’s candidacy, at least from the standpoint of being at the top of the Auburn list; However, we’re hearing he’s considered a suitable candidate should the Lane Train not come to town.
Auburn has and continues to do so with due diligence on other candidates, including background work on other head coaches currently in the top 10.
Matt Rhule, sources told FootballScoop, was under discussion; although the signs in this quest are not currently pointing in that direction.
It should also be noted that Cadillac Williams did everything Auburn wanted in the role. He has the players and the fans gathered around him. We’ve talked on several podcasts that if Harsin should be fired, that’s why Auburn should put Cadillac in that role. He has served Auburn University well and is expected to be offered a significant role in the future. Auburn would love to pair Kiffin with Cadillac if it’s possible, if Kiffin doesn’t happen it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
As highlighted above and more fully in the podcast below, anything is possible until the ink dries. Enjoy the Iron Bowl and then get ready for the real fun.
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