By Adam Brown
Ole Miss Athletics Director Keith Carter addressed the media today about the program’s decision to fire Matt Luke and how he plans to “find the right guy for the job” to turn the program around.
Luke was released of his duties as the head coach on Sunday after the 21-20 loss to in-state rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving.
“It’s a hard day,” Carter said. “We are going to make a change in our football leadership, with the support and consultation of Chancellor Boyce and after meeting with Coach Luke. We felt like we need to move in a different direction and inject new energy into the program.”
After the Egg Bowl, Carter said he took a hard glance at Luke’s tenure at the helm of the red and blue.
“I looked at the totality of Matt’s tenure. Though you can see progress in certain areas, we weren’t experiencing enough success on the field,” Carter said. “From a recruiting, academic and overall culture standpoint, Matt did a tremendous job. We will always be grateful for his leadership.”
Luke went from being a player (1995-98), to assistant coach 2012-17 and interim, all the way to head coach (2018-19) of his alma mater. Though his legacy was strong, it was apparent fans became weary of his ability to win as a leader.
“Another factor was the lack of support. It was evident that the apathy surrounding the program was just too much to overcome,” Carter said. “We felt like it was time to find new leadership that can help take this team to a new level. Not only from building on our culture but to wins on the field. We can’t thank Coach Luke enough.”
“Winning is important. We know that we can win and compete for championships at Ole Miss.”
While the Rebels are looking for their next head coach, Carter appointed defensive coordinator Mike McIntyre to interim coach during this transition. His appointment has him hitting the ground running with the team’s big recruiting weekend coming up.
As McIntyre heads the Rebels, Carter said Ole Miss has begun the search for a new head coach with the help of Ventura Partners, a national search firm.
“We are looking for the strongest candidate and best fit to lead our program moving forward,” Carter said. “We would prefer a sitting head coach or Power Five coordinator, but more than anything we want energy, passion and a track record for success.”
Carter said he plans “to find the right guy for the job” based on the information he learned when he selected Kermit Davis to lead the Ole Miss men’s basketball team. His plan is to move “quickly and swiftly” in finding the next coach.
“The thing I learned about the (Davis) search is how important confidentiality is,” Carter said. “Ultimately, you have to sit down with people and look them in the eye and have a shared vision, talk to them about . . . wanting to be at Ole Miss. With Kermit, I think you saw that in the first five minutes. That’s what I am looking for here.”
Carter wants to find a head coach who can walk into a room, take over and galvanize the team to rally them back.
“It is clear from this season, with the talented players in a destination school like Ole Miss, this is a very attractive job and we look forward to working quickly and efficiently to find our new head coach,” Carter said.