Video by Talbert Toole
By Adam Brown
Ole Miss head football coach Matt Luke has Rebel blood that runs deep.
The bloodline began with his dad, Tommy Luke, who played defensive back for the Rebels in the 1960s. Luke and his brother Tom grew up listening to their dad’s stories of his time on the field. These stories instilled a passion in Luke for Ole Miss football.
“That’s my dad’s helmet right there (on his table in his office) that he used, and it sat on our bookshelves growing up,” Luke said. “So, for my brother and I, that was a dream of ours.”
As Gulfport natives they both played football growing up. Tom, who is seven years older than Matt, came to Oxford in 1989 to play quarterback for the Rebels. Luke said he played high school football on Friday nights, then the family would make the drive north to see Rebel games on Saturdays.
Luke’s dream of playing for the Rebels came to fruition in 1995 when he played center for four seasons.
Following his playing career, he served as an assistant student coach at Ole Miss in 1999, assisting the Rebels to an 8-4 mark with regular-season wins against Auburn, South Carolina, LSU and Arkansas, as well as a 27-25 triumph over Oklahoma in the Independence Bowl. He graduated in May 2000 with a degree in business administration.
Luke then spent two years (2000-01) coaching the offensive line at Murray State before returning to his alma mater to coach the Rebel tight ends and offensive line for four seasons (2002-05).
Luke had two other assistant coaching stops at Tennessee and Duke before returning to Ole Miss in 2012.
“I got into coaching and my next dream was to be a coach at Ole Miss. And then that came true,” Luke said. “I think very few people get to live their dream and I’m getting a chance to do that. At one point or another, I have been a fan, player, coach and now the head coach. I just know how people feel and I want to put a product on the field that all Ole Miss fans will be proud of.”
Luke said the 2017 season opener was emotional for him as interim head coach. The interim tag is off this 2018 season, and he’s ready to hit the ground running.
“At the end of last season, the culture of the program was good with an unselfish attitude that the guys are playing for each other,” Luke said. “The motivation is for the guys to play for the guy next to them. Also, to play the game the way it is supposed to be played.”
The momentum after the 31-28 victory over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl carried the Rebels well into recruitment and the early signing period to produce a Top 30 sign class.
“I am proud of these group of young men,” Luke said.