Luke tasked with picking up pieces
The task of pulling together Mississippi’s shattered football program is now in the hands of interim coach Matt Luke.
The 40-year-old was promoted from co-offensive coordinator on Thursday night in the stunning aftermath of coach Hugh Freeze’s resignation for a “pattern of personal misconduct” that started with the school’s investigation into a call to an escort service.
It’s just the latest issue facing the embattled Rebels.
While Luke has been an assistant at Ole Miss during Freeze’s entire five-plus year tenure, his name has not been linked to the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program. Luke also has deep family ties to the university and north Mississippi, playing offensive line for the Rebels from 1995-98.
Now he has a 12-game audition for the full-time job.
It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s not completely bleak either.
“Matt is a great coach,” Bjork said when announcing Thursday the school was turning the program over to Luke. “He’s a leader. He’s a rock. He’s an Ole Miss Rebel. And I’m confident — and especially even more confident after watching him address the team — that he will lead this team and program through this difficult time.”
Bjork also noted that Wesley McGriff, the team’s defensive coordinator, has been promoted to associate head coach. Luke was not immediately available for interviews in the aftermath of Freeze’s resignation.
Luke is now in charge of a program that still has a talented roster — especially on offense — but is in the midst of long-running NCAA investigation that’s already caused the school to impose a one-year bowl ban for the upcoming season.
The offense features several promising young players, including sophomores like quarterback Shea Patterson, left tackle Greg Little and receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
Luke needs to hold on to them to have success. But it is unclear if any players on the current roster will transfer in the wake of the Freeze bombshell.
Bjork said “it’s hard to say” if there will be any roster changes.