Ole Miss officials removed the interim tag from football coach Matt Luke, who guided the Rebels to a 6-6 record this past season, after taking over the job when former coach Hugh Freeze abruptly resigned in July.
Athletic director Ross Bjork met with the team Sunday night in an auditorium on campus to notify them that Luke was the man for the job, a decision that was met with resounding enthusiasm and hugs from the players.
Luke thanked Bjork for the opportunity, then told the players, "It's because of you all that I am standing right here. You know this is a dream of mine. But just like I told you before that last game [a win over Mississippi State], Mississippi is not a stepping stone. This is somewhere that I want to be, and love, and want to be here til they run me out of here."
The Rebels upset No. 14 Mississippi State 31-28 in the Egg Bowl on Thursday night. Ole Miss self-imposed a postseason ban for this season in February, after receiving a revised NCAA notice of allegations.
After upsetting the Bulldogs, Ole Miss players chanted "We want Luke!" in the locker room. Wide receiver A.J. Brown told the Associated Press that he thought Luke should be the coach going forward.
"I really love that guy and I want him to be the head coach," Brown said.
The Rebels are still waiting to learn whether or not the NCAA committee on infractions will accept their self-imposed penalties, which also includes the loss of scholarships and forfeiture of SEC postseason revenue this season, or pile on more penalties for rules violations committed under Freeze and former coach Houston Nutt.
Bjork said Monday that possible NCAA sanctions didn't play a factor in the school's coaching search. "We got the right guy," he said.
"I think there is some uncertainty and [recruits] are waiting to see what happens," Luke said. "But there is a lot of interest and we're going to be right there either way."
Luke, 41, a native of Gulfport, Mississippi, was a four-year center for the Rebels from 1995-98. His father, Tommy, was a defensive back at Ole Miss in the 1960s while his brother, Tom, quarterbacked the Rebels from 1989-91.