Lane Kiffin is aware that his name was strongly associated with Auburn’s position as head coach this fall.
Kiffin’s name was already being linked to Auburn before the Tigers fired Bryan Harsin on Halloween, and excitement has only increased in the nearly three weeks since Auburn’s new athletics director, John Cohen, began searching for the next coach of the program began. Kiffin was the candidate most associated with the job on the Plains, and multiple reports suggest he is the Tigers’ No. 1 target.
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Kiffin was questioned again about those reports on Saturday night after Ole Miss’ double-digit loss to Arkansas, as well as a report earlier this week that said the Rebels were offering him a new contract and a raise to work at Oxford, Miss. to stay.
“Fair question,” Kiffin said when asked if he was considered Auburn’s main target. “Like I said, I like being here. I don’t want to look to next year with a regular season game (to be played), but this isn’t one of those years where you said, ‘We’re going to lose all these guys.’ A lot of people are coming back, and especially a lot of new players on offense. So very excited for the future. So, I don’t know all that stuff out there – #1 (candidate) stuff. Maybe if they saw the first half[against Arkansas]I wouldn’t be number 1 anymore.”
Ole Miss lost to Arkansas, 42-27, on Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark. The Rebels were down 35-6 at halftime while turning the ball twice, punting twice and missing a field goal.
It was Ole Miss’s second loss after the 8-0 season opener after losing to Alabama a week earlier.
Despite that loss to The Tide, a report surfaced earlier this week that Ole Miss renewed a new deal with Kiffin that would have placed him in the top 10 highest-paid managers in the country. Kiffin, who currently makes $7.25 million a year and is the 11th-highest-paid coach in college football this season, declined to address that report directly, noting that he “never” discusses such things, and while also expressing his appreciation for the administration of Ole Miss, he has no talk of a possible exit from Ole Miss after the Rebels ended their regular season with the Egg Bowl against rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving Day.
“I’m very happy here,” said Kiffin. “I mean, I’m not happy right now, but that has nothing to do with being here. I’m not happy with the result (against Arkansas) because I wanted to go 9-2 and 10-2 next week, so that’s all I’m worried about. So I’m very happy to be here. I’m very grateful for the leadership here and the things they are doing to give us a chance to win.”
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.