Lane Kiffin dismisses reports that he is leaving Ole Miss for Auburn

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin
Fig: Getty Images

Late Monday night, WCBI News Mississippi sports director Jon Sokoloff dropped a hand grenade in college football by announcing that Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin would accept Auburn’s head coaching job. Tweet Sokoloff specifically noted that Kiffin’s appointment as Auburn’s coach was imminent and that he would retire Friday after Thursday’s game against Mississippi State.

Kiffin later tweeted a printout of a typed report that attempted to turn the tables by implying. Sokoloff was leaving his station for WLOX. Being fired by Kiffin as the next Auburn coach before the Egg Bowl would have made things unacceptable for Kiffin, which explains why he would scoff at the report.

Interestingly, his mocking of Sokoloff is not an outright denial. He didn’t even try to say that Sokoloff was wrong. A year ago, Lincoln Riley vehemently stated that he “is not going to be the next LSU head coach.” Riley could get points for honesty, and demerits for making a misleading statement. Lane Kiffin better not leave Ole Miss now because he dug himself into an even deeper hole when he probably should have stomped the rumor mill.

The veracity of Sokoloff’s suggestion remains up in the air, but we won’t have a definitive answer until Auburn names Kiffin, interim coach Cadillac Williams, or someone else as the next head coach. On the other hand, Sokoloff has credibility as an information broker. On Oct. 29, he reported that Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen would fill the AD vacancy at Auburn days before his hiring was announced. It’s clearly smoke and Sokoloff’s information pipeline is solid.

However, Kiffin is a master gaslighter. Kiffin’s neat tweet didn’t even quell the rumors. If anything, his focus was on being as annoying as possible. He is one of the best internet coaches in college football and thrives on Elon Musk’s Twitter. Before Sokoloff stirred up the Auburn rumors, Kiffin made sure to let everyone know that he was focused on preparing for the Egg Bowl, not on the Auburn opener.

Kiffin’s mocking tone in his tweets explains the appeal he has with recruits. When you realize he’s still a teenager mentally, it all makes sense. The trolls, the Twitter freaks, the immaturity. He’s the coach who’s your friend while Kelly or Nick Saban exude a strict dad energy.

Ole Miss also denied Sokoloff’s report, which hopefully doesn’t mean they’re also unaware of their coach’s identity. Kiffin and his offense-heavy offense have been successful at Ole Miss. Before their losing streak in the month of November, the Rebels were ranked in the top 10. Ole Miss will hold on to Kiffin for as long as it possibly can, but the end of the Kiffin era is likely nearing and the Rebels sound like they are in denial.

We got to know Kiffin when he became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders at the age of 31 in 2010. He left Oakland in an upset. Then Kiffin whirled from Tennessee to USC and was abandoned on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport by Trojan athletic director Pat Haden. The night Kiffin left his last SEC job at Tennessee, fans rioted outside the complex where his press conference was held. Avoiding a shitstorm this time around is probably worth keeping the front up for a few more days.

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