Matt Luke out as Ole Miss head coach
Published 7:25 pm Sunday, December 1, 2019
Ole Miss Athletics Director Keith Carter dismissed Matt Luke as head football coach on Sunday and has launched a search for the program’s next leader.
“After evaluating the overall trajectory of our football program, we did not see enough momentum on the field and determined a change is necessary in order for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level,” Carter said in a statement released Sunday evening. “While improvements were evident in certain aspects of the program, we are judged ultimately by our record, and, unfortunately, we did not meet the standard of success that we expect from our program. We will always be grateful to Coach Luke for his leadership, particularly from a recruiting, academic and overall culture standpoint. At the same time, winning is important, and we know that we can compete for championships at Ole Miss.
“A search is underway to find a new head coach who can build a complete program that attracts top talent, develops them as young men and sustains a winning mentality. We will be looking for the leadership, energy and commitment to excellence necessary to compete in the Southeastern Conference and galvanize our passionate fan base.”
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Luke’s firing comes following a 21-20 loss to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl and a 4-8 season that included just a 2-6 record in the SEC. Over the course of his three years at the helm of Ole Miss football, Luke’s record sat at 15-21, with just a 6-18 record in conference.
On Thanksgiving, Ole Miss was painted in negative national light following Elijah Moore’s drawing of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after scoring a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. Luke Logan would subsequently miss the extra point from 35 yards out.
The early signing period for recruiting comes under three weeks from now on Dec. 18. With that date in mind, Ole Miss will likely need to move fast in its search for a new coach.
Luke took over, initially as an interim, in 2017 following the departure of Hugh Freeze. He was given the permanent head coaching gig following that 2017 Egg Bowl. In those three seasons, Luke’s SEC wins come against Vanderbilt twice, Arkansas twice, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Those three seasons included Luke having to lead Ole Miss out of NCAA probation. This 2019 season was the first off that NCAA probation, and also the Rebels’ best recruiting class – ranked No. 22 in the nation – that played a large contributing factor in this 2019 campaign.
“I want to thank Coach Luke for his devotion to Ole Miss,” Carter said. “His integrity, class and dedication to this program and our student-athletes is unsurpassed, and we will always appreciate how he stepped up at a time when his university needed him the most. We wish him the very best, and he will always be a cherished member of the Ole Miss family.”