One half of the Egg Bowl rivalry deemed a coaching change unnecessary. The other half? Not so much.
Late Sunday night, Ole Miss confirmed that Matt Luke has been dismissed as the Rebels’ head football coach by athletic director Keith Carter. The move comes three days after a second straight Egg Bowl loss that was punctuated by an embarrassing post-touchdown celebration by one of Luke’s players.
A report in mid-November had indicated that Luke, who played his college football for the Rebels in the nineties, was likely safe.
“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. “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.”
Luke was named interim head coach at Ole Miss in July of 2017 after Hugh Freeze resigned amidst allegations that he used a university-issued cell phone to contact escort services. In November of that year, Luke had the interim tag removed and was named full-time head coach.
In three seasons with the football program, Luke went 15-21 overall and 6-18 in SEC play. The Rebels won six games in Luke’s first season, then five in 2018 before tumbling to a 4-8 record in 2019.
The four wins this past season are the program’s fewest since Houston Nutt‘s last team went 2-10 in 2011.
“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.”
Ole Miss becomes the 10th FBS school to make a change at head coach this year. Nine of those remain open after Rutgers officially brought back Greg Schiano this weekend.