Ole Miss fires football coach Matt Luke, saying it didn't see 'enough momentum on the field'

Nick Suss
The Clarion-Ledger

OXFORD, Miss. — Matt Luke is out as head coach of the Ole Miss football program, the university said.

Luke, who led the Rebels to a 4-8 season in 2019, was in his third year as head coach, counting his interim stint in 2017. Across three seasons, Luke posted a 15-21 record.

Athletics director Keith Carter released the following statement Sunday night:

"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. 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.

Mississippi head coach Matt Luke leaves with a 15-21 record.

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"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 said Ole Miss has begun a search to replace Luke, and his ideal candidate would be one who attracts top talent, develops them as young men and sustains a winning mentality.

Mississippi scheduled a player meeting Sunday night to inform the players of the 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."

It is unclear who will take over the program in the meantime. Carter has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Monday.

Senior cornerback Myles Hartsfield provided one of the more scathing criticisms on his way out of the meeting.

"It's just tough losing your coach, man," Hartsfield said. "That dude actually cared about us. He'd do anything for us. Just knowing that we put a lot into this as seniors. To find out on Twitter? C'mon, son."

Luke has coached at Ole Miss since 2012. He was hired as the offensive line coach and worked as the co-offensive coordinator through 2016 before being promoted to head coach.

Luke is an Ole Miss alumnus who played football for the Rebels from 1995-98. His brother Tom and his father Tommy also played football at Ole Miss.

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

Ole Miss scored a touchdown with four seconds remaining in the game to give the team a chance to tie the score, but wide receiver Elijah Moore committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty celebrating the touchdown, pushing the extra point try back 15 yards. Luke Logan then missed the kick, sealing the loss.

Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or nsuss@gannett.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.