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Nov. 25—OXFORD — Lane Kiffin said he anticipates coming back as the Ole Miss head football coach in 2023.
Rumors have swirled the last two weeks about Kiffin's future with the program, with his name being linked closely with the Auburn job.
Following the Rebels' 24-22 Egg Bowl loss, Kiffin was asked if he anticipates being Ole Miss' head coach next season. He was also asked, if the Auburn job was offered to him, whether he would still be the head coach at Ole Miss. His answers were both affirmative that he believed he would be back in Oxford.
"Yes, I do," Kiffin said when asked if he anticipated being the Rebels' coach next year.
A report from WCBI's Jon Sokoloff earlier this week said that Kiffin was going to resign as Ole Miss' head coach and take the Auburn job. Kiffin vehemently denied the reporting on Twitter and noted that, because of the report, he held a team meeting with players Monday to address it.
"I think when it was falsely reported by Jon, who's now famous — congratulations — that you can just write whatever you want, and I would do it too, because you're never held accountable and you get to become famous and maybe it'll be right. So, Jon did it, so then I had to have a team meeting to say this article was wrong," Kiffin said. " ... So yes, I had to have a team meeting because of that. They don't (see it) when there's other stuff, and chat rooms and all that stuff. But when a reporter writes it, it changes the game plan."
Sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart was asked about what this week has been like for the team given the noise surrounding Kiffin's future.
"It's kind of tough sometimes when things are just thrown in your face," Dart said. "But I feel like, as a team, we've been able to stay as together as we can. We really wanted this game because we really wanted to win this game for each other."
A regular season that began with so much promise didn't end the way Ole Miss would have liked.
The Rebels began the season 7-0 but finished the season on a 1-4 run, which included three-straight losses. After debuting at No. 11 in the first CFP rankings, Ole Miss will likely find itself out of the rankings for the first time all season.
The Rebels had a chance to tie Thursday's Egg Bowl with 1:25 remaining following a 99-yard touchdown drive orchestrated by Dart. Dart threw a 23-yard touchdown to junior Dayton Wade to cut the deficit to 24-22, but the subsequent two-point conversion attempt — an incomplete shovel pass to senior Jonathan Mingo — failed. After an unsuccessful onside kick try, the Bulldogs ran the clock out.
The Rebels were 4 of 17 on third down Thursday night and had their worst offensive output of the season.
Ending 2022's regular slate the way they did was a tough pill to swallow for senior linebacker Troy Brown and his teammates.
"We cannot get comfortable with winning," Brown said. "It's a feeling that you want to acquire, that you want to have, but you have to understand that, what you do week in, week out, contributes to that feeling. And what we do week in and week out, day in and day out, we try not to feel like this.
"It's a hard one, but I told my guys in the locker room, we can't look back now. Thanksgiving is already here, be thankful for what you have and push forward."
Key Number: 15
Ole Miss had 15 yards of offense in the third quarter.
The Rebels await their bowl game fate. They will learn which game they're playing in on Dec. 4.
"Really disappointed for our players, especially our seniors, to finish like this, chance to win three in a row. Really didn't think we did a really good job of coaching, in-game and adjustments. ... I really had a hard time picturing this happening, even when the game was going. Difficult, and always difficult, to end your season with a loss like this, because it's not like you're playing next week. So, very discouraging, and a lot of things went wrong." — Lane Kiffin.
The Rebels ran for a season-low 74 yards in the game. Prior to that, their low for the year was 117 at LSU ... It was also a season-low for Ole Miss in total yards (331) ... Dart was 30 of 38 for 250 yards, his most completions at Ole Miss ... Junior defensive tackle J.J. Pegues caught the first touchdown of his career, which started at Auburn.
MICHAEL KATZ is the Ole Miss athletics reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com.