This was not the finish Lane Kiffin had in mind for the 2022 Ole Miss Rebels football season.
After starting the season 7-0, Kiffin and the Rebels collapsed late in their schedule, going 1-5 and losing heavily to Texas Tech in Wednesday night’s bowl game.
To be fair, the second half of Ole Miss’s schedule has always been daunting, but the end of a once-promising campaign left many Rebel fans scratching their heads, and 2023’s I’m hesitant to expect another brutal SEC schedule.
I can’t ignore the elephant in the room either. This era of coaching drama in his cycle has passed with Lane his kiffin, but regular later in his season, he could be the next head coach of his Tigers in Auburn. There was a very realistic smoke showing the Kiffin chose to stay at Oxford, but the controversy surrounding that time, combined with a poor season, likely meant he lost some capital among his fans.
However, if Kiffin offered Ole Miss fans what they’ve seen on the field since being hired, they would have jumped at it. A 10-win season, Sugar Bowl appearances, and three consecutive bowl trips are clear growth for a program reeling from NCAA sanctions entering the decade.
Today, Kiffin is one of the highest paid coaches in college football. Next fall will be crucial for his tenure if he wants to live up to that bill. That’s easier said than done, considering you have to play against two of your opponents.
It’s certainly possible that Ole Miss will come out of the gate hot next year, but maintaining that success (if it does) is of utmost importance to Kiffin.
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On a brighter note for Rebel fans, quarterback Jackson Dart has improved as the season has gone on. Kiffin’s offense could be stronger in 2019. A disappointing end to this season doesn’t necessarily spell doom and gloom next.
Still, the clock is ticking. How will the Rebels react when the ball kicks off in September?
You can follow John Macon on Twitter at: @JMakeGillespie.
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