Ole Miss names Matt Luke head coach after Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State

Matt Luke will continue to live his dream.

Ole Miss has named Luke its permanent head coach following his interim role in the 2017 season. The team was informed during a mandatory meeting Sunday night in the team meeting room inside the Manning Center on campus.

The decision to pull Luke’s interim tag comes three days after the Rebels ended their season with a 31-28 upset win over No. 14 Mississippi State in Starkville. Ole Miss rebounded from a 2-3 start to finish 6-6 in a season full of turmoil.

Luke, who spent the previous five seasons as Ole Miss’ offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator, was thrust into the role just a few weeks before training camp began in August following Hugh Freeze’s abrupt resignation amid a female escort scandal. It came in the midst of the NCAA’s investigation, which resulted in 21 rules violations being levied against the program and a bowl ban being self-imposed by the school for this season.

Ole Miss started 2-0 before losing its first three games against Power Five opponents, including setbacks to Alabama and Auburn that came by a combined 84 points. The Rebels stopped the bleeding with a win over Vanderbilt before the next bout of adversity came when quarterback Shea Patterson suffered a season-ending knee injury seven games in, but Ole Miss never had winning or losing streaks longer than two games the rest of the way.

The Egg Bowl win and a comeback victory at Kentucky were the high points. There was also a 38-37 loss to an Arkansas team that finished last in the SEC’s Western Division after Ole Miss led 31-7.

But the season’s circumstances never fazed Luke, who called being the head coach at Ole Miss a dream in his first press conference after taking over this summer and had his players vouching for him once it was over.

This season was Luke’s 14th as a player or coach at Ole Miss. He was a center at Ole Miss from 1995-98, becoming the third member of his family to suit up for the Rebels. His father, Tommy, was a defensive back for the late Johnny Vaught in the 1960s while his brother, Tom — who’s on staff as the Rebels’ assistant athletic director for player development — played quarterback for Ole Miss.

Luke began his coaching career as a student assistant at Ole Miss in 1999. His first stint as an on-field assistant for the Rebels came from 2002-05 as offensive line and tight ends coach. Luke’s other stops as an assistant have included Murray State, Tennessee and Duke.

Davis Potter covers Ole Miss sports for the Oxford Eagle.
Davis Potter, The Oxford Eagle
Davis Potter covers Ole Miss sports for the Oxford Eagle.

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