December 13, 2022

Mississippi Mourns MSU Head Coach Mike Leach

Morgan Howard

Source: MSU

Beloved Mississippi State head football coach, Mike Leach, has passed away at age 61.

He left a huge impact on the community, the school, the athletic department, and just about everyone he encountered.

On Monday, Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach suffered a medical emergency related to a heart condition at his home and was listed in critical condition. According to a press release from Mississippi State University, he died later that night at UMMC in Jackson.

In a statement, the Leach family said:

“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 University President Mark E. Keenum 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,”

MSU Interim Athletics Director Bracky Brett said:

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership 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 person, we are all better for having 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.”

Leach was named Mississippi State’s 34th head football coach on January 9, 2020. Mississippi State described him as an admired college football icon, an incredible husband, father, friend and leader of young men.

Mike Leach was the oldest of six siblings. He has his wife Sharon have four children, Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.

He was a two-time national coach of the year, three-time Power 5 conference coach of the year and the mastermind behind the NCAA record-setting “Air Raid” offense.

Leach made many accomplishments in his 21 years as a head coach.

Leach compiled a 158-107 (.596) record, guided his squads to 19 bowl games, produced seven seasons of at least nine victories, captured two conference division titles, became the winningest coach in Texas Tech history and set school records for bowl appearances at both Texas Tech (10) and Washington State (6). During 10 of those 21 seasons, Leach’s passing attack led the FBS – six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State.

Mississippi State University writes that Coach Leach was one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football, Leach’s 158 career wins as an FBS coach are the second-most among active SEC coaches and the fifth-most among active Power 5 coaches. Of the 50 most productive passing yardage seasons in FBS history, 10 came from quarterbacks coached by Leach since his hiring as head coach at Texas Tech in 2000. That included one season by Kliff Kingsbury, one by B.J. Symons (2003), one by Sonny Cumbie, three by Graham Harrell (2006-08), one by Connor Halliday, one by Luke Falk (2015), one by Gardner Minshew II (2018) and one by Anthony Gordon (2019).

He left a huge impact on the community and the world.

Source: MSU

Editor’s Note from Darkhorse Press: Coach Leach made football rivalries fun. He was such a character, and his random thought trains, his “bandwagon” videos, and the way you felt like he was your fun uncle will make him even more missed. Along with Coach Kiffin, he brought sportsmanship and friendship to a rivalry that has often been strident and contentious. Coach, we will certainly miss you, and we were so lucky to have known you for the time we did.

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