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  • Kevin Scarbinsky

Trolled by Kiffin, rolled by the Tide: AU's nightmare isn't over yet

When you've walked in the desert as long as Auburn football has, it's easy to mistake a mirage for an oasis and dismiss an oasis as a mirage. This is the way the 2022 Auburn football season ended on the field Saturday in enemy territory as the program's nightmare continued.


Trolled by an impostor, then rolled by the real deal. Left at the altar with a lot less confidence that the program's leaders will be able to alter their circumstances for the better. Defeated by rival Alabama as expected with no guarantee of better days ahead until the most critical piece of the new management team is introduced.


And maybe not even then.


Alabama 49, Auburn 27 was the least of the Tigers' worries. Before and after kickoff, they learned some hard lessons in their search for a way out and a way up. Lane Kiffin ain't coming, Nick Saban isn't going away and the Tigers will be lucky if the best thing to happen to them in years, Carnell Williams, doesn't look for an exit himself.


He embraced his moment. If only his school had hugged him back.


Williams was the oasis as the interim coach, the honest refreshment during a long trudge through this desert of defeat. He was the best of what Auburn likes to believe it is, the ultimate family man, putting the interests of his players first, leading by serving and smiling, not by Tweet and snark.


It was fun while it lasted, these four weeks of football, family and fun, but no amount of energy and enthusiasm was going to prevail for four quarters against the red sea of talent led by Bryce Young. While Auburn's Robby Ashford had his Nick Marshall moments and a rejuvenated running attack rolled up 318 yards, more than any previous Alabama opponent under Saban, Young was too good. He was too willing and able to drop his dimes in diverse directions for the Tigers to keep up.


When the game ended, with Auburn headed home toward more questions and Alabama hoping for an avalanche of pre-playoff chaos almost too convoluted to come true, two moving moments framed what a rivalry should be. ...


Read more of Kevin's reflection on an unusual Iron Bowl and his reporting on the twists and turns of the Auburn coaching search. Only in The Lede.


Nick Saban shares an Iron Bowl moment with Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)

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