For the past four years, Ole Miss has been involved in controversy due to the NCAA investigation into the Rebels football program. The resignation of head coach Hugh Freeze added to the cloud that continues to hang over Oxford.
Archie Manning played a key role in the hiring of Freeze, and he was a guest speaker at the 71st annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in Biloxi on Monday.
Manning said he's sorry for what has happened at Ole Miss and said Freeze is a friend of his and he will continue to be his friend. He also said Gulfport native Matt Luke will do a good job in leading the Rebels football team on an interim basis.
"He's a tough kid," said Manning. "He's really tough. He's kind of an overachiever in football. Of course, I knew his dad. His dad played up there before I did. His brother, good football player. Great family. Matt's a lineman. That has a lot to be said for that. I think he's so well respected by the players, they're going to play hard for him and the coaches will coach hard for him. Matt is going to do a great job for us."
If Luke wins seven or eight games, does Archie believe he will retain the head coaching job?
"He's been around coaching now for 20 years. He knows you've got to go out and play in week one. That's about all you can do. Then, you tee it up and play in week two. I think that's the way Matt will approach it," said Manning.
Has the NCAA taken too long to complete its investigation of Ole Miss?
"Yes," Manning said.
So, what should be done?
"Don't take so long, but hopefully, we can get through that and get it behind us," said Manning.
Luke has his troops out on the practice field, preparing for week one, a Sept. 2 date with South Alabama in Oxford.
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