Luke has no head coaching experience. His first game at the helm will be on Sept. 2, when Ole Miss takes on South Alabama. He’ll also have trips to Alabama and Auburn in his first season as well as a Thanksgiving day clash against Mississippi State.
But all those potential obstacles are why Luke is an intriguing candidate to win this year’s Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in the eye’s of Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated.
Luke was not one of the 19 coaches named to the Bobby Dodd watch list, but Feldman points out that his award rarely goes to the best coach in the country. It often to goes to the coach that has the most surprising season. Three of the last four winners are David Cutcliffe of Duke, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and Mike MacIntyre of Colorado(Nick Saban of Alabama did win the award in 2014).
Feldman adds that if Luke can get to eight wins, which doesn’t sound unrealistic given the Rebels less than stellar non-conference schedule and that its SEC opponents this year are Vanderbilt and Kentucky, he’s got a real shot at the award and the full time job.
“I think if Luke can get Ole Miss to eight wins and steady this ship, he will not only get strong consideration for this award but also probably keep the coaching job for more than just this season,” Feldman wrote. “Word is that with Freeze out, some inside the program feel like a dark cloud has gone away. Luke’s team will be led by one of the most talented young QBs in college football in Shea Patterson, and there’s plenty of good skill talent around. This team could win more than its share of shootouts.”
Luke played for the Rebels and has been at the school for 10 years in two different stints. And as LSU fans saw with Ed Orgeron last year, and interim coach can win enough games to land the full-time job.