Ole Miss coach Matt Luke ready to seize 'destination job'

He was named the program's interim coach in July, and led the Rebels to a 6-6 record, including a 3-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference.

Posted: Nov 27, 2017 4:32 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2017 9:43 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Matt Luke had a broad smile as he strolled to the podium to be introduced as Ole Miss football coach. The cameras flashed, the crowd gave a long standing ovation and Luke's family watched with pride.


The welcome felt much more like the real thing this time.

The 41-year-old Luke was introduced Monday as Ole Miss head football coach — for the second time. He was named the program's interim coach in July, and led the Rebels to a 6-6 record, including a 3-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss announced on Sunday that Luke would keep the job on a permanent basis.

"Ole Miss is a destination job," Luke said. "It's not just my dream job, it's a destination job. And I am truly honored to be the head coach at the University of Mississippi."

Luke has a four-year contract that's worth $12.6 million and includes several performance incentives. The school did not release any details about buyout terms for either side.

The news conference on Monday had a much more positive vibe than Luke's introduction as the interim coach, when the program was still reeling from previous coach Hugh Freeze's sudden resignation. Freeze left after a university investigation into his phone records found what the school called personal misconduct.

One reason Luke was asked to be the interim coach was his deep ties to the university. He was an offensive lineman for the Rebels in the 1990s and his brother and dad also played for the school.

Luke said his love for Ole Miss is well-documented, but that's not the reason he feels qualified to lead the program on a long-term basis.

"I wanted to be hired here because I was the right man for the job," Luke said. "I've been playing and coaching at this level for 20 years. I've been under some of the best head coaches in the country and I fully understand what a championship program looks like."

Luke's hiring is undoubtedly popular inside the program. He led the Rebels to an emotional 31-28 upset victory over No. 16 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thursday, and players were heard in the locker room chanting "We want Luke!" during a raucous celebration.

Outside the program, the response has been more tepid. Many fans wanted a more well-known leader or at least someone with more head coaching experience.

Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said that he had "extensive conversations" with eight candidates and that interest in the job was significant, but in the end, Luke had the best plan for future success.

"I realize that the easy decision was to hire someone new," Bjork said. "Bring in a splash hire. A big name, if you will. In reality, the hard decision was to drill down, assess our program, what it needs, be strategic and hire the right coach.

"In the final analysis, Matt Luke is the best person, best leader and the best coach."

The Ole Miss job comes with several challenges — most notably the fallout from the NCAA's investigation into the program for rules violations. The Rebels were not eligible for a bowl this season because of a self-imposed postseason ban. They've also self-imposed scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions.

The NCAA is expected to release a final ruling in the case in the coming weeks. The governing body could accept the Rebels' self-imposed sanctions or add to them.

Luke said that the NCAA's judgment won't affect the long-term vision of the program.

"We've been through a lot of adversity and we're going to come through this no matter what," Luke said. "But it's going to take hard work. It's going to take discipline."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 85°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 85°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather