Ole Miss fired football coach Matt Luke on Sunday night and athletic director Keith Carter informed the team in a closed-door meeting so they didn't hear it from anyone else. The issue is Rebels players have a larger problem with the message than the messenger and things are in danger of going off-the-rails in Oxford, especially if the assistant coaches aren't retained.
Numerous attendees stormed out of the meeting before it was over, including expected key contributors for next year.
"After the meeting concluded, junior offensive lineman Chandler Tuitt said "half the team" is talking about leaving. Tuitt said if the entire coaching staff is dismissed along with Luke, he doesn't think many players will stay with the team."
Tensions always run hot in situations like this, but that's quite a statement to make publicly, especially from someone who will face that decision themselves.
""But you realize, there's no program without players," Tuitt said. "You're basing stuff off the fans. But we don't care about the fans that much. I'm going to be honest. We're here for the coach. We love football. If you don't want to support us, that's just your fault.""
Tuitt wasn't alone in his passion. His teammates expressed frustration that the move was being done to appease fans, not players, and that Luke had just begun to turn things around. Luke was 15-21 in three seasons and just completed a 4-8 campaign with an embarrassing Egg Bowl loss.
Competing in the SEC West with players has been a challenge for Ole Miss since Hugh Freeze's incredible recruits figured out how to solve the Alabama riddle. Doing it without players will be even harder.
We're still in the early stages here but it's worth keeping an eye on this situation because a few leaders bouncing for the transfer portal will likely cause an avalanche of departures. If that happens, 15-21 over three years will look pretty darn good.