Ole Miss fires coach Matt Luke after 3 seasons

Ole Miss has dismissed head football coach Matt Luke, who posted a 15-21 record in three seasons at the helm.

“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,” athletic director Keith Carter said in a statement Sunday night. “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.”

Luke, who played at Ole Miss, took over as the Rebels’ interim head coach just a week prior to the start of fall camp in 2017 after Hugh Freeze was fired. Luke was named the permanent head coach following the 2017 season.

The Rebels finished 4-8 this season, including a 21-20 loss on Thanksgiving night to rival Mississippi State, a game that saw the Rebels miss a chance to send the game into overtime when receiver Elijah Moore was penalized for excessive celebration after catching a touchdown pass and then pretending to urinate in the end zone. The Rebels were backed up 15 yards for the extra point, and Luke Logan’s PAT kick was no good.

Luke didn’t take the Rebels to any bowl games. The school self-imposed a bowl ban in 2017 because of NCAA violations that occurred when Freeze was the coach, and a second year of postseason ban was added by the NCAA in 2018, although the Rebels were just 5-7 that season.

“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.”

Just a week ago, Carter told the Clarion-Ledger that the football program was “headed in a great direction” and that he was “excited about Coach Luke.”

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