Coaching search: The 11th hour update

It is Iron Bowl Saturday, which means that the search for the next head coach at Auburn has reached its final stretch.

Saturday morning has provided plenty of updates regarding the search, so let’s take a dive into the latest buzz.

The plan remains that Auburn does not plan to extend an offer to anyone until after Saturday’s Iron Bowl. According to a report by Jason Caldwell from Auburn Undercover, the method for waiting is to show respect to interim head coach Cadillac Williams. I’m sure it will also keep the player’s focus on the game, and not on who the next coach will be for a few hours at least.

The race is reportedly down to two candidates, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, and Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger confirmed that news this morning via Twitter, saying that Auburn has been in contact with both coaches.

However, ESPN’s Chris Low and Pete Thamel believe that the race is down to one person.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin doubled down on his plans to stay in Oxford on Thursday following the Rebels’ loss to Mississippi State. According to Low and Thamel, the talk between Auburn and Kiffin has cooled drastically within the last 24 hours, which now shifts focus over to Freeze.

According to Low, Kiffin has told his team, as well as his staff and officials at Ole Miss, that he plans to remain the Rebels head coach. A big reason for Kiffin wanting to stay in Oxford is his family’s unwilling to relocate.  This is fair, considering that Kiffin has not stayed in one spot for longer than four years. He just concluded his third season at Ole Miss.

Thamel then reported on College Gameday that Freeze is now the leading candidate, and could be named the head coach at Auburn within days.

“Sources tell me that no offer has been made to Freeze yet, but nothing will happen formally until after the Iron Bowl. But the expectation is that Hugh Freeze is going to be Auburn’s next coach,” Thamel said on College Gameday Saturday. “Within the last seven days, the sides have talked generally about contractual terms. But again, there has been no formal offer, but Hugh Freeze is the top candidate to become Auburn’s next head coach.”

Since taking over the head coaching job at Liberty in 2019, Freeze has won eight games in all four seasons and has won all three bowls that Liberty has competed in during that time. He led the Flames to 10 wins in 2020, and a win in the Cure Bowl.

During his time at Ole Miss, Freeze posted a 39-25 record and beat Alabama twice during his five-year tenure.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire