Saturday night’s loss to Texas A&M marked the 32nd game of Matt Luke’s head coaching career at Ole Miss, and it ended like 17 other not great games. Granted, it was a loss of the close variety, but it carried the tenets of his blue-collar, disciplined football, which include, but are not limited to, mistakes, long stretches of ineffectiveness, and squinting-at-the-scoreboard stares after NOT GREAT, BOB game management.
He’s now 14-18 overall, and in 21 SEC games, he’s 6-15. Against SEC schools not named Alabama, LSU, or Auburn, he’s 6-8, with wins over Vanderbilt (2x), Kentucky, Arkansas (2x), and Mississippi State. Against non-Sun Belt, MAC, and FCS teams in non-conference play, he’s 1-3.
To be fair, those are probably the right results for a career offensive line coach who was unfairly tasked with leading a program, thanks to the decisions of a massage-loving former head coach. He was thrown into a tough situation in 2017, but it should’ve ended there with a plaque that thanked him for his service*.
Instead, he got an interview because Mississippi State’s quarterback wrecked an ankle, and people who love good Rebels more than Ole Miss went to bat for him. No other school in the SEC would’ve considered him for the job or bothered to interview him. However, at Ole Miss, qualifications don’t matter. As long as you love Ole Miss and know the right people, congratulations, you’re now in charge.
So here we sit with an unqualified head coach who can’t get results, and there’s a chance we get another season of the same? Pray tell, how did Glenn Boyce ever become chancellor at Ole Miss?!?!?
*In all seriousness, him keeping that team from checking out was remarkable work.
(1) Bye Weeks
Can’t find yet another way to lose a game if you don’t play!
We’re all winners thi- OH COME ON.
One of a lot of injuries— Nathanael Gabler (@nategabler) October 21, 2019
Jerrion Ealy - concussion protocol
Elijah Moore - groin
Braylon Sanders - hamstring
Eli Johnson/Ben Brown - ankle
Michael Howard - shoulder
Most of these ones are minor
And let’s not forget Scottie Phillips’ knee!
It’s right around the corner, which means you need to follow Tony’s lead and get your costume in order. Or definitely not.
The Bear didn’t die for this, dammit pic.twitter.com/eQRGJm0FYK— Dylan Edwards (@DylanEdwards77) October 20, 2019
(3) But the Recruiting Class!
Some quick background behind this thought: Luke gets another year, which allows for what could be a solid-to-good recruiting class in 2020. Luke gets fired at the end of next season, but there are now back-to-back solid classes instead of potentially another lost class, leaving the new coach with more talent.
While there’s some merit to this, there’s one kinda, sorta problem with this line of thought. It assumes Luke can hold this class together (they’ve closed so well in recent years!). When he goes 4-8 or 5-7 this season, every opposing coach in America will tell croots that Luke is getting fired next year, so why go play for a guy who’s going to be gone in December of 2020?
Maybe Luke can hold on to some guys, but players aren’t signing up for uncertainty. Just like when other schools used NCAA Supermax prison doom against Ole Miss in recruiting, they’re going to use Luke’s shaky job status against Ole Miss.
The administration can roll over his contract to prevent another Andy Kennedy situation, but they can’t hide 6-6, 5-7, and 4-8 (or 5-7). That will be drilled into the heads of anyone we’re recruiting.
Those opposing coaches will also mention the brutal schedule and fan unrest, and now a solid case has been made to recruits. What’s Luke’s best response to that? Anything other than “we’re working hard and need you to help us” isn’t going to be very believable.
If retaining Luke was critical to holding on to a top 10 class, I would say BRING OUR OLE MISS-LOVING, BAD-DECISION-MAKING COACH back, but we’re talking about a top 15 to 20-ish class (currently ranked 21st on 247, which is 6th in the SEC West), if all goes perfectly, which has never happened ever in the history of Ole Miss. If I can trade Matt Luke and a signing class that might (MIGHT) be 5th or 6th in the SEC West for a coach with proven results and a class also at the bottom of the SEC West, WILL TAKE.
Making its legal debut in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium’s non-box/club seats, alcohol was available on Saturday night for those who prefer to watch Ole Miss football with a coping agent coursing through their veins. Cash money collected from beer sales was around $130,000, which seems a little low, but temperatures were on the cool side and moderately depressed drinking always goes slower than celebrating that we’re dunking on someone drinking.
(5) Drinking for a Cause
Remember, each beer you drink in the stadium contributes $8 to the Matt Luke buyout fund!
(6) One Quarterback
Whatever feel Rich Rodriguez had for rotating John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral against Missouri stayed behind in Columbia. With the exception of a couple of drives, everything on offense seemed disjointed and like Rich Rod was grasping at different ideas because nothing was working consistently.
Some of it probably had to do with neither quarterback having an accurate passing game, particularly Plumlee, who was dreadful early and often. Throw in Jerrion Ealy missing the second half (he was on pace for 12 touches, which would’ve tied his season high), A&M limiting Plumlee in the running game, Plumlee’s knee injury at some point, and as if there wasn’t enough bad news, three interior linemen on a not great offensive line missed snaps due to injuries. Those are things that do not help an offense function properly.
Outside of Jerrion Ealy’s 69-yard (obligatory: v nice) touchdown run and the opening drive of the second half that also produced a touchdown, let this drive chart wash over you:
- 3 plays, 9 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 4 yards, punt
- 4 plays, 13 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 17 yards, punt
- 11 plays, 29 yards, missed 50-yard field goal because why
- 5 plays, 31 yards, end of half
- 9 plays, 32 yards, fumble (was this bad?)
- 10 plays, 57 yards, blocked field goal
- 2 plays, 14 yards, interception
- 4 plays, 23 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 3 yards, punt, chef-kisses fingers
- 14 plays, 66 yards, field goal
That’s four sustained drives that ended with three points for Ole Miss and seven points for Texas A&M. I’ve run the numbers, and my spreadsheet says this is not ideal.
(7) Hiding in Storage Room C
Ole Miss chancellor Glenn Boyce, a master of deception, lying, taking money to hire himself, and using some light extortion to secure an $800,000 salary, remains hidden in a storage closet in the Lyceum. He wasn’t introduced on Saturday night and likely won’t make a non-GOB friendly public appearance until three years from now when he attends the press conference that introduces Chip Pickering as the new Ole Miss chancellor.
However, given that the attendance for the New Mexico State game will only include about 30,000 people with the potential to boo him, maybe there’s a chance he waves on the jumbotron to not-as-loud boos.
(8) Fast to Quite Fast
Pls run again.
When you work for an organization that puts people like Matt Luke and Glenn Boyce in positions of authority pic.twitter.com/DoAynrMeDb— red cup reBOOlion (for halloween!) (@RedCupRebellion) October 20, 2019
(10) Stories of Sneaking Booze into Games
Now that alcohol is available for purchase in Vaught-Hemingway, people may be less likely to bring in their own, which inspires tales to #youths about HOW WE USED TO DO THINGS BACK IN THE DAY. One of the best stories I heard was a grown adult man, married with young kids, who would strap his supply to his five- and seven-year old children. A savvy, veteran move with an ironclad defense:
WE’RE TRYING TO GET THEM INTO THE BEST CLINICS, SIR.