As head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Mike Leach was known for his quirky behavior and has since passed away. He was 61. On Tuesday, the school told everyone he had passed away. “Mike was a giving and thoughtful husband, father and grandfather,” Leach’s family reports this in a statement.
“He was able to participate in organ donation at the UMMC as a last act of charity. We are sustained and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, hospital staff and football fans around the world. Thank you for sharing the joy of life with our beloved husband and father.”
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The school said Leach died because his heart condition got worse. “Coach Mike Leach cast a huge shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but across the entire college football landscape,” said school president Mark E. Keenum in a statement.
“His innovative ‘Air Raid’ attack changed the game. Mike’s sharp intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the country’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, the Southeastern Conference, and all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s deep curiosity, his honesty and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.”
Keenum added, “Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks ago, Mike and I sat together in the dressing room to celebrate a hard-fought win at Oxford. Mike Leach really embraced life and lived it in such a way that he didn’t regret it. That’s a worthy legacy. May God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog family go with them.”
Mike Leach was 1-on-1. He was one of the best characters in the sport and was an innovator who helped change football. In a world where coaches are businesslike and mostly the same thing, he stood out because he was genuinely himself.
This is a terrible day for college football.
— Brandon Walker (@BFW) December 13, 2022
Leach became the head coach of a university for the first time at Texas Tech University in 2000. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops in the late 1990s. He also worked as an assistant to Hal Mumme at Iowa Wesleyan University before moving to Valdosta State and then to Kentucky. He was also the head coach of the American Football Association of Finland.
He took this knowledge to the Red Raiders where he turned Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell and others into gunfighter quarterbacks. He led Texas Tech to an 84-43 record and he was 5-4 in bowl games.
Three years later, Leach got a job at Washington State and made the Cougars famous. Again, he would mount an offense that allowed Gardner Minshew and Anthony Gordon to each throw over 4,000 yards in a season. He was at Washington State for eight years and led them to 11 wins in 2018. He led the Cougars to a 55-47 record and a 2-4 record in bowl games.
Mississippi State has announced the death of Head Coach Mike Leach pic.twitter.com/YwEhDt10WY
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 13, 2022
In 2020, Leach moved to the state of Mississippi. The SEC already had many of the best coaches in the sport. During the COVID-affected season, he went 4-7, but saved the year by winning the Armed Forces Bowl.
In 2021 he would go 7-6 and in 2022 he would go 8-4. When the school told him about his health problem, he got ready for the ReliaQuest Bowl. “We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach,” interim athletics director Bracky Brett said in a statement.
Apparently God told Mike Leach “it’s time to go” and Mike said, “Well you say it’s time to go but let’s look at what that really means. You know people always say that and I never know what they mean….”
And more than 24 hours later, he is still responding. pic.twitter.com/LwgNCF3rOn
— Craig (@5againstOne) December 13, 2022
“College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will live on forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership have touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.”
“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better human being. We’re all better because we’ve known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.”
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