ATLANTA (AP) - Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is relieved to begin summer camp knowing that his team has moved past NCAA sanctions that included bowl bans for last season and this year.
The Rebels went 6-6 with Luke serving as an interim replacement following Hugh Freeze's sudden resignation for personal misconduct. Luke landed the job full-time last November, getting a four-year contract worth $12.6 million three days after Ole Miss upset Mississippi State.
NCAA sanctions came a few days later. Ole Miss is still waiting an appeal on this year's bowl ban, but Luke has noticed an uptick in interest in recruiting.
"I think sometimes fear of the unknown is the biggest issue, so once all the sanctions were delivered and everybody knows what you're dealing with, you can then move forward," Luke said Tuesday at the SEC's annual preseason media gathering. "I think you're seeing that on the recruiting trail."
One of Luke's biggest concerns is finding ways to improve the run defense, which allowed 243 yards rushing a game to rank 123rd in the nation.
"I think we have to find creative ways to load the box and make people throw it over the top to beat us," he said.