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Mike Leach 1961-2022

Rest in peace to a true college football innovator

Mississippi State v Ole Miss Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Sad news out Starkville as Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach died Monday night after complications from a heart condition. Leach was 61.

The Leach family released a statement: “Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity. We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world. Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”

Mississippi State president Mark E. Keenum also said: ”Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape. His innovative “Air Raid” offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things. ”Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks ago, Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach truly embraced life and lived in such a manner as to leave no regrets. 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.”

Leach was 19-17 in three seasons at Mississippi State. Leach led the Bulldogs to an 8-4 record and won the Egg Bowl. Mississippi State will play Illinois on January 2 in Tampa at the ReliaQuest Bowl where defensive coordinator Zach Arnett will serve as interim head coach.

Leach was known for his Air Raid offenses most notable at Texas Tech, Washington State, and of course Mississippi State. The Red Raiders, Cougars, and Bulldogs slung it all over the yard and Leach was 158-107 overall in his 21 seasons as a head coach.

But Leach was an even bigger, quirkier personality and was universally beloved. “The Pirate” as he was affectionately known as never gave a bad interview.

Rest in peace to an icon.