SEC Football: Auburn head coach hire waiting on Iron Bowl loss


Predicting outcomes in SEC football is risky. Some of us did not give South Carolina a five percent chance of beating Tennessee. In August no one foresaw Texas A&M going 4-7, with an eighth loss looming. And it is not just the outcomes of games that fool us.

Head coaching searches take unpredictable and sometimes perplexing turns. Less than two days ago, Auburn football fans were confident the program had a deal Lane Kiffin could not refuse. Kiffin was, and may still be Auburn’s No. 1 candidate, but the wind in the Plains is blowing in a new direction.

How do we know this for sure?  We don’t, and outside of new Auburn AD, John Cohen, maybe no one knows. But Mary Kate Hughes, a solid source from Fly War Eagle is talking about two head coaches, whose names are trending up. One is Cincinnati’s head coach, Luke Fickell and the other is Penn State’s, James Franklin.

To consider how much the latest perspective matters requires considering two ‘apparently’ presumptions. One ‘apparently’ is Auburn is not close to landing the four coaches that had most often been mentioned as their top candidates. The four were (and might still be) Lane Kiffin, Hugh Freeze, Mark Stoops and former Baylor and Carolina Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule.

On Sunday, Kentucky wisely announced an extension and a big raise for Stoops. Liberty recently did the same for Hugh Freeze. Some national college football pundits are predicting Rhule is content to sit out the 2023 season.

Outcome of one SEC football game will not make a difference or will it?

If those three are truly out, what about Kiffin? First, if Auburn is considering options, it is not expected to be related to Arkansas taking Ole Miss to the woodshed on Saturday night. It could be, that for Kiffin, neither Auburn’s contract dollars nor its NIL resources make the Tigers a slam dunk.

Rumblings from Oxford are NIL resources have been the sticking point in retaining Kiffin. Recent rumors are Ole Miss has effectively closed the NIL gap. Kiffin, too smart to risk putting an Egg Bowl in jeopardy, is saying great things about his team and Ole Miss.

Which leads to a last ‘apparently’ and it is quite a stretch. Instead, more accurately it could be called a ‘what if’. What if Auburn is reluctant to make an announcement, and possibly even a decision, until after the Iron Bowl? If the Tigers somehow upset the Crimson Tide, not giving Cadillac Willaims a head coaching shot will not sit well with many Auburn fans.

Austin Peay game Report Card. dark. Next

An Auburn win in Tuscaloosa could mean the outcome of one SEC football game could determine a coaching hire.