Ole Miss’ interim head coach Matt Luke, along with defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff and a few players, met with media for the first time on Monday afternoon since the resignation of Hugh Freeze last week.
Luke, a former three year starting offensive lineman for Ole Miss, appeared emotional during the press conference as he described entering the stadium as the head coach of his alma mater.
VIDEO: More from Matt Luke's first press conference as Ole Miss interim football coach. pic.twitter.com/puK2Ig5ZBd— Jeff Barker (@JeffBarker_) July 24, 2017
The emotion was understandable for Luke. A former walk-on who entered the program while it was short on scholarships following sanctions in the early 1990’s, he is an Ole Miss legacy through and through. His brother Tom played quarterback for the Rebels in the early 1990’s and his father Tommy played defensive back.
With experience playing on a team with scholarship losses, the new head coach said that situation, “creates a unique bond with teammates. You are playing for the guy next to you. And that is so special.”
Luke was quoted detailing his time as a player and assistant coach in Oxford (under David Cutcliffe, Ed Orgeron and Freeze):
I can't believe that I've spent 14 years of my life as a player or coach here. I can truly tell y'all today that this is my dream job. It's a job I've been preparing my whole life for. I feel more strongly now than ever that I'm the right man to run this program.
Turning to on-field issues, Luke said he is planning on hiring an offensive line coach so that the coaching staff is filled out and that, “Ninety-five percent of everything is going to stay the same, but I plan on bringing my passion and energy along with it.”
The players that met with the media were the same ones that Ole Miss brought to SEC Media Days: quarterback Shea Patterson, offensive lineman Javon Patterson and defensive lineman Breeland Speaks. The players all expressed surprise at Freeze’s departure but backed Luke to lead them forward.
Javon Patterson expressed the passion that Luke brings to the job, saying that he, “loses his voice almost every practice...you feel his passion and you feel his presence,” while Shea Patterson said that one of the team’s goals is to, “give it our all and win as many games as we can so that he's not a Band-Aid coach.”