When Auburn began its search for the program’s next head coach toward the end of the 2022 college football season, Lane Kiffin quickly became the school’s top choice.
In an interview with ESPN on Friday, Kiffin revealed that the criticism he received from some fans over how he handled the process had left him feeling conflicted.
For several weeks, Kiffin weighed the pros and cons between the opportunity at Auburn and his current job with the Rebels.
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But, Kiffin believes that he took the right approach in the midst of a difficult situation.
“We screw up all the time,” Kiffin noted. “But 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.”
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Three days before Ole Miss closed out the regular season, WCBI News reported Kiffin was expected to resign from his head coaching position and take the reins at Auburn’s next coach.
A short time later, Kiffin took to Twitter to respond to the report by posting a picuture of him reading “The Egg Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss” along with the caption, “Just doing some late night reading @OleMissFB.”
Kiffin then quote-tweeted a WCBI reporter’s tweet and said, in part, “That’s news to me Jon.”
Ultimately, Kiffin stayed in Oxford, while Auburn decided to hire Hugh Freeze as the 31st head football coach in the school’s 129-year history.
Before joining Auburn, Freeze served as Liberty’s head coach in from 2019-2022.
Kiffin disclosed his intentions to remain with Ole Miss to his players before a game against Mississippi State, ESPN reported. Ole Miss went on to suffer a 24-22 lost to Mississippi State.
Kiffin did not want to say anything publicly about his decision until after the season, because he did not want to become a distraction.
But “sometimes the right thing to do doesn’t always go right in areas,” Kiffin told ESPN.
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Kiffin has helped turn the Ole Miss program around. He went 5-5 in his first season in Oxford, which was shortened by two games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rebels have gone 18-8 over the past two seasons with Kiffin at the helm.