“He has been an invaluable part of our staff and played a great role in helping us win a national championship,” Smart said in the UGA release. “We are so appreciative of everything he has done for Georgia football. Matt, Ashley, and his children have been, and will continue to be, an important part of the Bulldog family and Athens community. We’re working on finding a coach that will continue to develop our young men and build our strong foundation with the offensive line.”
Names of possible replacements include former Georgia lineman Nick Jones, who is an offensive line assistant with the Los Angeles Rams, Auburn offensive line coach Will Friend and North Carolina offensive line coach Stacy Searels. Offensive analyst Mike Bobo, a former head coach and offensive coordinator, could also assume Luke’s duties either temporarily or permanently. The Bulldogs begin spring practice March 15.
Sources familiar with the situation said Luke’s decision came as a surprise to Smart, and he tried to talk him out of it. Instead, Smart is now looking for a fourth new assistant coach since the Bulldogs won the 2021 national championship with a 33-18 win over Alabama on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.
“Today, after much prayer and conversation with my family, I have decided to step away from coaching and shift my focus to spending more time with my family."
- former UGA assistant coach Matt Luke
Defensive coordinator Dan Lanning left to become head coach at Oregon, while wide receivers coach Cortez Hankton (LSU) and defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae (Miami) left to accept similar positions at new schools.
Smart hired Fran Brown from Rutgers as defensive backs coach on Friday. Earlier this month, he brought in Bryan McClendon from Miami as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, and Chidera Uzo-Diribe as outside linebackers coach. Former defensive analyst Will Muschamp was promoted to co-defensive coordinator.
Losing Luke is a particularly big blow. Not only had he done an exceptional job with Georgia’s offensive line, but he assisted Smart in several off-field roles as associate head coach. A former Ole Miss offensive lineman, Luke was a 23-year coaching veteran.
“Being able to play and compete in the SEC as a player and then continue my career in football as a coach for the last 23 years has allowed me the opportunity to give back to the game I love so much,” Luke said in the statement. “To all the players I have had the opportunity to coach through the years, I want to say thank you for trusting me and allowing me to be your coach and play a small role in your lives. I will never forget the relationships and memories that we made together. That’s what makes this game so special and what I will miss the most.”
McClendon was an associate head coach at Miami and could assume those duties with the Bulldogs.