Luke Ole Miss

Matt Luke watches the Rebels in warmups. (Photo by Daily Journal)

Ole Miss dismissed Matt Luke as head football coach late Sunday evening. 

Luke led the Rebels to a 4-8 season in 2019, his third year as the head coach of the program. Over three seasons, Luke posted an overall 15-21 record.

Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter released the following statement at 8 p.m. Sunday.

"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. "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."

Carter added that Ole Miss has already begun a search to find Luke’s replacement and that the ideal candidate is one who attracts top talent, helps them develop and establishes a winning mentality within the program. Carter says the end goal is to compete in the SEC and rejuvenate the fan base.

A players' meeting was scheduled for Sunday night to inform the players of the university’s decision. Senior linebacker Willie Hibbler said players, including himself and freshman Jerrion Ealy, walked out of the meeting.

"That tells you a lot," Hibbler said. "I think they made the move off wins and losses. They didn't make the move off how the players feel. We're the ones praising him every day."

Luke was hired as the offensive line coach in 2012 and worked as a co-offensive coordinator through 2016 before being promoted to head coach after the dismissal of Hugh Freeze. Luke, an Ole Miss alum, played football for the Rebels from 1995-98. His brother Tom and his father Tommy also played football at Ole Miss.

Luke inherited a team during a period of significant NCAA investigation and sanctions. During his first two years as head coach, his team was ineligible to qualify for a bowl game. He was also limited in scholarships to be offered as well as the number of recruits who were allowed to make official visits.

Ole Miss’ probation ended in 2019, and Luke hired veteran head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre as his offensive and defensive coordinators for the season full of heightened expectations. However, the Rebels opened the season with a loss at Memphis and faltered down the stretch, losing five of its final six games.

The 2019 Ole Miss season ended on Thursday night when the Rebels lost 21-20 in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State.

It is currently unclear who will be the 38th head coach in Ole Miss football history. Carter says the university will provide more details as the search progresses.

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