There has been plenty of noise surrounding the possibility of Lane Kiffin bolting Ole Miss football for Auburn. But the latest reports from the Ole Miss side say Kiffin informed his team Wednesday evening that unless something significant changed, he would return as the Rebels’ head coach in 2023.

While that certainly doesn’t shut the door on the Lane Train stopping in the Plains for the future, it’s definitely a huge swing toward Ole Miss that looked near impossible to happen just a day or two ago.

With an announcement one way or the other likely coming either Friday or Sunday, let’s look into things from the Ole Miss football perspective, and look at why Lane Kiffin should NOT leave Oxford.

2. Ole Miss football salary

A week ago, Ole Miss reportedly put an extension offer out to Lane Kiffin that would’ve come with a significant pay raise. Under his current contract, Kiffin makes $7.25 million in base salary, while his extension would raise his pay to $9.5 million, with escalators that would take him to somewhere in the neighborhood of $10.5-11 million. His base salary would tie him with Ohio State’s Ryan Day for fifth-most in college football.

That’s a whole lot of money! In fact, Ole Miss has never paid a coach that much, even relative to the rest of college football. This is an unprecedented commitment to the football program by Ole Miss, and it shows just how far Chancellor Dr. Glenn Boyce and AD Keith Carter are willing to go to keep their coach right where they feel he belongs, walking the sidelines at Vaught Hemingway Stadium.

1. NIL

This is the big one. Reports indicate that while Lane Kiffin is going to get a pay raise either way, it’s far from his most pressing concern. What he wants to see out of his employer is a commitment to NIL infrastructure that would make his team one of the most competitive in the country. Reports from earlier in the Kiffin/Auburn football saga said that Kiffin estimated that were he to stay at Ole Miss, he’d need roughly $4.5-5.5 million in NIL funding to compete with the blue bloods in 2023.

So far, for all sports, Ole Miss’ largest NIL collective, The Grove Collective, has raised at least $10.5 million for 2023. There are unconfirmed reports that on top of this, a $3 million one-time donation was made to the collective, but let’s stick with what we know.

The apparent distribution of funds between the various sports means that football would have at least $7 million to work with in 2023, and that’s assuming no new members or corporate sponsors climb aboard, and no large donations are made. Auburn’s largest collective, On To Victory, has a $7 million annual goal for football, and reports out of their side of the issue state that they’ve exceeded it, and have somewhere between  $9-10 million ready to go for football, whether the head coach is Lane Kiffin, Hugh Freeze or someone else.

It’s clear that Lane Kiffin has come to some decision over the past 24 hours, but unfortunately for those religiously following this saga, we’re unlikely to know anything for certain until Lane Kiffin’s Egg Bowl postgame press conference at the absolute earliest. Hold onto those britches college football fans, this plot arc may just get weirder before it ends.