'Half the team' considering transferring from Ole Miss after Matt Luke firing, per player

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Matt Luke is out as the coach of Ole Miss and a number of Rebels players apparently aren't happy about it -- to the point where they'd consider leaving the program. How many would follow through is anyone's guess. Emotions are high considering Ole Miss just pissed away its last game of the year to Mississippi State and fired its coach within one weekend. Still, one player told Nick Suss of the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger that "half the team" is talking about leaving if the entire coaching staff is dismissed. 

Rebels offensive lineman Chandler Tuitt made his comments following a team meeting with athletic director Keith Carter. "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."

Center Eli Johnson added that he will be returning to Ole Miss next season, and that some teammates feel the same, but others would be willing to walk. 

"But that's not the case with a lot of guys. A lot of guys came to school here because of coach Luke," Johnson said. "They don't have any ties to Ole Miss football. That's what scares me is how are those guys going to respond to this?"

Ole Miss is coming off a disappointing 4-8 season that ended in the worst way possible. Tuitt could also be overestimating the number of players who'd actually be willing to transfer. Cooler heads may prevail by the time it's all said and done. Who Ole Miss hires to replace Luke will play a factor in the vibe of the locker room, too. 

But the comments from Tuitt and Johnson highlight a new era of player leverage in college football. It's not much leverage, but with the transfer portal as an available option, players can now dip their toes into the transfer waters to see if they like the temperature. Even if it's not half the team like Tuitt described, attrition is commonplace anytime there's coaching staff turnover. And now it's easier than ever to find a way into a new situation. 

Whether the decision to fire Luke was a good one or not, it was a business decision. All firings are. Ole Miss could have been 0-12 with players emotionally invested in Luke and the school would have had a responsibility to make a change. It's a precarious balance, but it'll be fascinating to watch over the coming months if Tuitt's assessment comes even remotely close to true. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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