This is the Iron Bowl. It’s not your ordinary season finale. Heck, it’s not even your ordinary rivalry. Since 1893, it has defined the state of Alabama. Defined, and divided a population in the Deep South, where football is more a religion than a game.

It’s Auburn vs. Alabama. And like the conference in which the 2 teams play, it just means more. So many interesting storylines to consider.

Cadillac Williams entering the scene and breathing life back into the Auburn program. Alabama clinging to the slimmest of hopes that it could become the first 2-loss team to make the College Football Playoff, while at the same time trying to dispel any thought that the Nick Saban Dynasty is slipping.

An Auburn victory on Saturday would tag the Tide with their 3rd loss of the season, the most since 2010, and only add fuel to the notion that the end of the Saban era could be drawing near. A Tigers triumph would be their 3rd consecutive victory and also make them bowl-eligible.

Yes, on the surface, this doesn’t appear to be one of the bigger Iron Bowls as the rivalry goes. But there is a ton to play for on both sides.

The Tigers are 22-point underdogs, which at 1st glance seems absurd until you look at history. The past 5 games played at Bryant-Denny, all Alabama victories, have resulted in margins of 29, 31, 18, 11 and 49 points. So a 22-point spread fits in logically with that.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. Is he or isn’t he coaching for the full-time job? As stated, Williams has been a breath of fresh air for the Auburn football program since being named interim head coach. That much is obvious. But has he done enough to impress the Auburn decision-makers, newly named athletic director John Cohen included?

In the past, I compared Williams’ situation to that of Ed Orgeron at LSU. The Bayou Bengals were looking to go a different direction from a stagnant program under Les Miles. Orgeron was popular among the players and won some football games as interim head coach.

Where the comparison veers off, presumably, is in the fact that LSU couldn’t lure its big fish to the bayou. By all accounts, it was Jimbo Fisher whom those Tigers were after. So when he turned them down, they “settled” for Orgeron. It was a safe and, at the time, far less expensive alternative.

But in Williams’ case, it appears that Auburn’s main target does have some interest in the job. On Tuesday, Lane Kiffin met with his Ole Miss squad, preparing for its own heated rivalry with Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, and assured it that he hasn’t signed any contract with Auburn.

Kiffin didn’t say he had no interest in the job. He just said he hasn’t signed any contract.

Unlike his mentor Nick Saban, Kiffin didn’t commit to the bold lie a la Saban’s “I will not be the next head coach at Alabama.” But we all know how that turned out. And what’s that old saying: “The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

To be fair, this could all be truth. It could very well be nothing but a ploy by Kiffin’s (and Saban’s) agent Jimmy Sexton to get his client paid. Kiffin has already been offered a contract extension by Ole Miss that would make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. He hasn’t signed it yet, presumably waiting for Auburn’s offer.

But what if the Tigers pull the upset on Saturday? What if Williams leads them to a 3rd consecutive victory, including an Iron Bowl triumph, and into an upcoming bowl appearance?

Is that what we’re waiting on?

Or has the die already been cast, and the announcement will be forthcoming following the Iron Bowl? That’s the place in which we find ourselves at this point — in a rather limbo state.

It’s a distraction. A distraction for an Auburn team about to play its biggest game of the year. A distraction that involves an agent who just happens to be the same agent for the head coach of the opposing team on Saturday.

To use an old cliche, that falls under the category of “dirty pool.” But consider the source. Consider the head coach who has done the most, at least publicly, complaining about the NIL while at the same time publicly accusing Texas A&M of buying its entire top-rated recruiting class.

These are the coaches and the agents we are dealing with today in college football. But I digress.

An upset on Saturday, and seemingly Auburn would have no other choice than to remove the interim tag on Williams. To hire elsewhere after that would be a PR nightmare, not to mention the players’ revolt that would surely ensue. And with the transfer portal now a weapon of power, could Auburn afford to snub one of its own under those circumstances?

Besides that, even if Williams and the Tigers don’t win on Saturday, does Auburn really want to pay the exorbitant rent for Kiffin? What do I mean by that? Well, let’s look at Kiffin’s resume: 2 years with the NFL Raiders, 3-plus years at USC, 3 years at FAU, 3rd year at Ole Miss. Nuff said.

Or does Auburn instead choose an Auburn lifer? Williams spent his 4-year college career at Auburn. He’s in his 4th year as a coach at Auburn. Given the chance for Williams to be its head coach, it doesn’t appear Auburn would have to worry about him jumping ship … ever.

Auburn claims to be family. It’s a bedrock of the foundation, it claims.

We’ll see.