The problem with hiring Matt Luke last year is that everything stayed the same. Sink or swim, Luke was saddled with an aerial-minded offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator that, let’s face it, wasn’t up to the task.
Ole Miss sank.
So now what?
Typically, when a new head coach is hired, he gets to put his own stamp on the program. Luke didn’t have that privilege, or if he did, he chose not to change anything.
So here we are headed into year 2 (three if you count the interim year) and we have no idea what Luke is all about. If we don’t know what Ole Miss football is right now, how are recruits supposed to know?
As of right now we don’t even know if Phil Longo is staying or going, but the Ole Miss fan sites are both reporting that he’s going – maybe – and that Luke is hoping he leaves on his own accord.
But back to the problem at hand.
What is Matt Luke? Is he a spread coach? Is he a pro-style coach? Does he want to grind it out on the ground or air it out? Can he recruit a linebacker or 12? Can he build a buzz about Ole Miss football that catches on with the recruits? How will he do that after a 5-7 season and with changes at both coordinator positions?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, and not knowing the answers makes it hard for me to generate any enthusiasm for the direction of the program.
Luke doesn’t even have the benefit of being the energetic new coach. He’s been the head coach for two seasons now (again, counting the interim year). I just don’t know what he’s going to build on here.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but a clean slate and a completely new direction would have probably been a better choice by Ross Bjork last year.
But of course this conclusion does make an assumption – that being that Bjork could have found a quality coach other than Luke to take the job.
Maybe he couldn’t. Or maybe the price was too high for the ones willing to consider it. Taking on an Ole Miss program strapped by sanctions and a 2-year bowl ban may have been more than coaches were willing to consider without a $6 million per year contract.
We’ll never know because Bjork won’t undermine Luke by admitting these things. All I know is that the program has a long way to go, no buzz, no momentum, and no real identity.
This is not a good place to be.