Sunday, May 28, 2023

Vassallo: Texas A&M Is Matt Luke's Final Exam

Matt Luke leads the Rebels onto the field before the UT Martin game in Week 2. Photo by Paul Keelaghan

With the Ole Miss Rebels reaching .500 at 5-5 and arguably the ninth best team in the league, their remaining two-game season has only one possible “W” left: Texas A&M, this Saturday in Oxford.
As much as I want to believe in Santa Claus, he won’t be visiting the Rebels in Starkville this Thanksgiving. By my estimation, Mississippi State should prevail by 30 points or more. With their narrow loss to Bama this past Saturday, the Bulldogs are looking like a 9-3 squad, having lost only to the SEC’s trifecta elite.
While we’re still searching for a new head coach, here’s my viewpoint on this narrative. Placing my Pollyanna hat on for a minute, should the Rebels upset the Aggies (arguably the seventh best team in the league at 6-4), Matt Luke’s case to remain as Reb CEO for the 2018 season would be a strong one. Going 6-6 in the environment that he inherited would be a remarkable accomplishment. And even with a loss to Texas A&M, he should be given complete and extensive vetting.
If, for any reason, Ole Miss decides to go in another direction, here’s my take on it: By passing up Luke, we would then need to hire the best coach available anywhere and not someone who has a record of failure at other institutions, despite the normal excuses that accompany these resumes. This time, that dog will not hunt!
If we hire a new head coach with a modest record of success and he should fail to win in Oxford, the resounding commentary in the Grove would be, “We set Matt Luke free for this?”
In other words, if we are dead set on making a change, this time it has got to be platinum. There is simply too much at stake to do anything else!
Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.