My interest in Ole Miss football under the direction of Matt Luke sang its death song on September 29, 2018. On that Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Ole Miss lost to LSU, 45-16, in a manner that can be accurately described as “area man burns down house after setting off $400 worth of fireworks in his living room.”
I’ve stupidly watched a lot of unwatchable Ole Miss football over the years, and those four-ish hours were among the worst I’ve witnessed. At the end of that exercise in flushing time down the toilet, I said it was pointless to invest in Ole Miss football until Luke and his staff were loving Ole Miss while not employed by Ole Miss.
Setting an alarm to wake me up in 3 years when it's coaching search season.— Gray Hardison (@BellyoftheBeast) September 30, 2018
Bonus points to me, based on years of experience, foreseeing that Ole Miss was going to double down on a mistake and ride this thing out for another two seasons.
Things got worse as the season progressed. The team kept losing and fan apathy grew exponentially, leading to atmospheres in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that had all the enthusiasm of people forced to attend their eight-year old nephew’s YMCA basketball game. Throw in a recruiting cycle in which the short-sighted #MississippiMade strategy delivered almost no #MississippiMade talent and fan support had bottomed out in early December.
Then came the coordinator hires.
Despite getting almost nothing right in 2018, Luke made two pretty impressive hires in Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre. While both have concerning episodes of mishandling sexual assault and harassment cases, they are accomplished coaches with years of evidence suggesting that they know what they’re doing, at least as it relates to football.
Following the Rodriguez hire, Luke convinced long-time Rodriguez assistant and New Mexico offensive coordinator Calvin Magee to join his staff. Magee, who was with Rodriguez at every one of his stops over the last decade-ish, spent the last year in Albuquerque directing New Mexico’s triple option offense that is run out of the shotgun and reeks of interesting ideas (no, Ole Miss not going to run that offense, but Magee being exposed to that allows him to steal ideas and incorporate them in Oxford).
While I’m not overwhelmed by the hires (perhaps not even whelmed, as I have concerns about what both Rodriguez and MacIntyre have left in the tank), I find my idiot brain having thoughts of INTRIGUE and MAYBE IT’S NOT AN ETERNAL TIRE DUMP FIRE. More importantly, does this mean I’m now slightly more interested in Ole Miss football under Matt Luke?
The voices in my head will continue to rage-debate that question, mostly out of concern for me valuing my time, but I think, at the very least, there could be a window of interest. Granted, that window will probably be shut in the third quarter of the season-opener vs. Memphis, but me even having these thoughts is something I did not think was possible on the last Saturday of September 2018.
I find myself wondering if there’s anything Luke can do between now and the end of next August to reel me in even just a fraction of an inch more. Surely there’s nothing, as the February signing period won’t be of any significance, BUT WHAT IF.
What if something weird happens and spring practice goes well, outside of the reports of the standard sunshine pumping crowd, who have to be exhausted at this point in the Luke era. Don’t get me wrong, I hate myself for even crossing this threshold by a toe, but I am a dumb Ole Miss fan who will never learn.
So I ask you, dear reader, has Luke done enough to regain any of your interest? Or is there anything he could do in the coming months for you to get the red and blue glasses out of the trash and tell your friends, neighbors, and co-workers, IT MIGHT NOT BE THAT BAD?
Ugh. Bless our precious little hearts.