After Luke firing, Ole Miss AD says program needs “new life and energy”

As Ole Miss begins a coaching search, AD Keith Carter wants to “interject new life and energy into the program.”

After announcing the decision to fire head football coach Matt Luke on Sunday night, Ole Miss Athletic Director Keith Carter held a press conference inside the Manning Center on Monday morning to discuss why he made the move.

Related: Ole Miss fires head coach Matt Luke

Luke and the Rebels finished 4-8 in 2019, including the 21-20 loss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night. In his three seasons as the leader of the Rebels, Luke went 15-21 and 6-18 in the SEC after taking over for Hugh Freeze in 2017. While Carter said that he saw improvement in the program, things weren’t moving fast enough.

“As we looked in the couple of days since the Egg Bowl, we tried to get away from that (the Egg Bowl) because it was obviously a very emotional night for a lot of reasons. We tried to look at the totality of the program and what I just kept coming back to was while we could see some progress in some areas and had been competitive on the field in most games this year, it just felt that the apathy for the program and the lack of support were going to be hard to overcome. Going into next year, with the schedule built the way that it is, it just didn’t feel like even if we got to five, six, or seven wins, that it was going to be enough to get people back and get over that hump. We felt like making a change now was important so we can interject new life and energy into the program,” he said.

Carter also stated that the search for a new head coach is already underway, and he outlined his preferred criteria.

“We would prefer a sitting head coach or Power-5 coordinator, but more than anything, we want energy, passion, and a track record of success. We want a program builder who can galvanize and help unite Rebel nation,” Carter explained.

The Rebels have hired Ventura Partners to assist with the search – the same firm used during the hiring process that led to Kermit Davis taking over as the head men’s basketball coach. Carter said that he will ultimately choose the next head coach.

As for some names to keep an eye on as the search begins, SportsTalk Mississippi’s Brian Scott Rippee is reporting that several candidates have already emerged.

“Sources indicated to SuperTalk that Memphis head coach Mike Norvell will center the focus of Ole Miss’ search. Louisiana’s Billy Napier and Appalachian State’s Eliah Drinkwitz are also considered to be strong possibilities. Norvell has compiled a 37-15 record in four seasons and the Tigers recently capped off an 11-1 campaign with a win over Cincinnati on Saturday. Drinkwitz went 11-1 in his first season at Appalachian State and Napier just capped a 10-2 mark in his second year in charge of the Ragin’ Cajuns.”

For the time being, DC Mike MacIntyre will serve as the interim head coach. Carter said that he has not spoken to MacIntyre or OC Rich Rodriguez about the permanent head coaching job but “anything right now is on the table.”

With college football’s early signing period just a few weeks away, it appears that the process to hire a new coach will go quickly.

Watch the full press conference below: