When Lane Kiffin signed his six-year contract extension to remain as head coach at Ole Miss instead of jumping over a state to become the head man at SEC West rival Auburn in November, he felt good about his decision.
Kiffin, who finished his third season with the program with an 8-5 record overall and 4-4 in SEC, was in a bevy of rumors as the Tigers top target to become the next head coach from the moment Auburn fired Bryan Harsin on Oct. 31. However, despite staying after consulting with his family and his own personal considerations, Kiffin said he wrestled with the scrutiny he faced from Ole Miss fans in his decision-making process.
“… When you think you’re doing the right thing and then you’re really criticized for it -- especially by your own people -- I struggled with that because I feel like I went through a decision-making process that you're supposed to go through,” Kiffin told ESPN in an interview on Friday. “I mean, you got to decide. It’s your life and your family’s life.”
After weeks of speculation, Kiffin told his players the night before the Egg Bowl matchup with, Mississippi State, to ensure that his players knew he was returning as coach following the culmination of the regular season. But when the Rebels lost to their in-state rival that eventually capped a four-game losing streak—loss to Texas Tech in the TaxAct Texas Bowl on Dec. 28—to end the ’22 campaign, Kiffin questioned whether he chose the right time to inform them.
“I told them [Ole Miss players] thinking that’s what obviously matters the most, and because we lost it wasn’t done right,” Kiffin said in the interview. “If we won [against Mississippi State], nobody would’ve cared.”
With the ’22 campaign behind him, Kiffin is hoping to elevate the Rebels even more in the ’23 season with a high-quality of recruits and transfers entering the program.