Mississippi State Football Coach Mike Leach Dies At Age 61!

According to the university, Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach died on Monday night due to complications from a cardiac issue. He was 61.

In a statement sent by the university on Tuesday, Leach’s family claimed that Leach donated an organ at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as “a final act of kindness.”

The support and prayers of family, friends, Mississippi State University, medical personnel, and football fans worldwide, according to Leach’s family, have helped them through this difficult time. We appreciate you sharing in the happiness of the life of our cherished father and husband.

Mike Leach was airlifted to the UMMC in Jackson, some 125 miles from Mississippi State, after experiencing what the institution initially described in a news release as a “personal health concern” at his home in Starkville on Sunday.

Mike Leach, the coach of Mississippi State in his third season, admitted to ESPN after the regular season that he had pneumonia earlier in the year but was now feeling better. Before experiencing his health issue on Sunday, he was practicing on Saturday.

Many people who knew Leach was shocked to hear that he had become quite unwell over the past several days and were hoping and praying for his recovery amid the difficult circumstances.

Mississippi State University president Mark E. Keenum said in a statement that coach Mike Leach “cast an enormous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the whole college football scene.” His game-changing ‘Air Raid’ offense was novel. One of the coaching legends in the country, Mike was known for his sharp mind and unflinching honesty. Our university, the Southeastern Conference, and all fans of college football are deeply saddened by his departure. I shall miss Mike’s intense curiosity, honesty, and open-minded pursuit of excellence in everything.

“Mike Leach’s passing also highlights how frail and unpredictable our lives are. Mike and I were in the team’s locker room three weeks ago as we celebrated a significant victory in Oxford. Mike Leach sincerely loved life and lived his life without looking back. That leaves a good legacy—godspeed to the Leach family during these trying times. The Bulldog family offers them their prayers.

Leach, who has a 19-17 record for the Bulldogs, including an 8-4 history this year, was in his third tenure as head coach. From 2000 to 2009, he attended Texas Tech, then from 2012 to 2019, he attended Washington State. He won the 2018 AFCA National Coach of the Year award at Washington State.

Mike Leach Die
Mike Leach Die

According to interim athletic director Bracky Brett, Mike Leach’s passing has left Mississippi State “heartbroken and distraught.” “Today saw the death of one of college football’s most cherished icons, but his legacy will go on forever. Throughout his career, Mike inspired millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family members, and friends with his vibrant personality, commanding presence, and remarkable leadership.

“Mike was a visionary, a pioneer, and an innovator. He was a legendary coach in college football and an even better person. Being acquainted with Mike Leach has improved us all. His wife Sharon, his children, and the entire Leach family are in the thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and bulldog as the whole family.

Leach went 158-107 in his 21 seasons as a head coach and was renowned for his effective Air Raid offenses. He was also famous for his oddball demeanor, dry humor, and propensity for discussing politics, business, history, and just about anything else with the same ease as he did quarterbacks making accurate reads and receivers running effective routes.

Seven of the top 26 quarterbacks and four of the top nine single-season passing yardage totals in FBS history played for Leach’s quarterbacks.

Leach transformed quarterbacks like B.J. Symons (448.7 yards per game), Graham Harrell (438.8), Connor Halliday (430.3), and Anthony Gordon (429.2) into record-setters and Heisman Trophy hopefuls by calling plays from a folded piece of paper no more significant than an index card.

Among FBS coaches still in use this year, his 158 career victories put him in sixth place.

Kliff Kingsbury, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and a three-year Leach player at Texas Tech, said Tuesday that football “was better because of Mike Leach and is considerably less exciting without him.”

Kingsbury remarked that without Mike Leach and everything he taught me about the game, “I have no idea where I would be today. He was more than a coach; he was undoubtedly one of football’s most creative offensive brains. He was one of the most unique persons I’ve ever encountered, a mentor and a friend.

Leach’s lengthy coaching pedigree includes USC’s Lincoln Riley, TCU’s Sonny Dykes, and Houston’s Dana Holgorsen, in addition to Kingsbury and Josh Heupel from Tennessee.

Mike Leach had a profound influence on the athletes he taught, the game of football, and myself personally, Dykes remarked on Tuesday. He had a distinctive personality, was a free thinker, and was a fantastic friend. No one else had a more significant impact on my life than my father.

Leach’s “unexpected passing” has left Alabama coach Nick Saban “very heartbroken,” he stated.

Over the past few years, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Mike, stated Saban. “Our chats usually made me grin, even if I wasn’t sure where they would end up. He was admired for being an offensive innovator who always did things his way. His teams had excellent coaching and were very difficult to stop. They displayed maturity and tenacity in their performance, which is a testament to his leadership.

Leach, who went by the moniker “the Pirate,” had a fondness for pirates and, while he was at Washington State, even had a life-size statue of a singing pirate in his office. When Leach was Texas Tech’s basketball coach while serving as the football coach in Lubbock, it was a gift from Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight.

In 2017, during Washington State’s 24-21 victory over Stanford, a fan ran onto the field and dropped his trousers after a touchdown. Leach, who is never one to hold back when giving his opinion, joked, “I miss streakers.” Leach also texted Donald Trump his congratulations after he won the 2016 presidential election and offered to serve as his “Secretary of Offense.”

Leach had a wide range of passions. He was an active traveler and outdoorsman who enjoyed visiting Key West, Florida, his favorite destination. With a law degree from Pepperdine University and a co-authored book about Geronimo and the Apache leader’s leadership style, he finished in the top quarter of his class.

Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the SEC, observed that “Mike made you think in every conversation.” We were all constantly forced to think differently and reconsider our viewpoints by his humor, profundity, and point of view.

Leach received his undergraduate degree from BYU, where he played rugby and spent most of his formative years. He didn’t play football in college, but he did pay close attention to LaVell Edwards, the Hall of Fame coach at BYU, and his offense.

Leach began coaching football at Cal Poly in 1987 after earning his law degree in 1986. In 1989, he joined Hal Mumme’s staff at Iowa Wesleyan. Because of Mumme’s Air Raid approach, Leach became a coaching superstar, and Mumme claimed Leach deserves a lot of credit for making the tactic famous. Leach worked for Mumme at Iowa Wesleyan as the offensive line coach and acted as a de facto publicist, distributing press releases to national publications touting the team’s impressive accomplishments.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Mumme said, “When you say, ‘Air Raid,’ he was the man who came up with the moniker.” He thought up the name so we could use it to promote it, and it’s probably appropriate because he’s been the one who’s taken it the farthest.

Tim Couch, a Kentucky and Valdosta State quarterback, flourished there and was first selected in the 1999 NFL Draft. Leach followed Mumme there.

Mumme, who is retired, admitted on Tuesday that there were some conflicts. I’m the reverse when it comes to the Bigfoot/aliens debate. And Quanah Parker and Geronimo used to be the subject of our disagreements. I’m a fan of Quanah Parker. Additionally, the Apaches were more skilled warriors than the Comanches.

“… On pirates, we essentially concurred. And on the history of the Civil War, we were mostly in agreement. On topics like Whataburger and In-N-Out Burger, we couldn’t agree. I mean, we most likely covered everything. We accomplished a lot of things during our ten years of dating.

Before accepting his first head coaching position at Texas Tech in 2000, Leach spent the 1999 season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, significantly enhancing the Sooners’offensee alongside quarterback Josh Heupel and head coach Bob Stoops.

Heupel, Tennessee’s head coach, expressed his “heartbreak” over Coach Leach’s demise. He gave a student from Snow College in Utah a chance to play major college football in 1999. When no one else did, he noticed something in me. I appreciate Coach Leach’s influence on my life, personally and professionally, as many others in our sport. His offensive philosophies and plans were innovative for their da and still influence how the game is played today.

“Off the field, he was unique; he was a master storyteller, a man of great insight, and always had his former players and coaches in mind. Our friendship has been enjoyable over the years.

At Texas Tech, Leach created offenses that broke records with quarterbacks like Kingsbury and Harrell. In five of Leach’s final six seasons as coach, the Red Raiders finished in the AP Top 25 and had an 11-2 season in 2008.

According to a statement from Texas Tech, Coach Leach “will be long regarded as one of the most inventive offensive minds in college football history.” “Only his influence on Texas Tech Football will be remembered as one of the best periods in our program’s history. Coach Leach immediately established a reputation at Texas Tech that would live on forever, largely thanks to his 84 victories and record-breaking offense.

Before being sacked on December 30, 2009, he had coached at Texas Tech for ten seasons. Adam James, a former athlete and the son of former NFL player and ESPN announcer Craig James, accused Leach of mistreating him after he sustained a concussion. On December 28, 2009, Leach was placed on administrative leave after what the university described as a “defiant act of insubordination.” He filed a claim against the institution for wrongful termination but was unsuccessful in obtaining financial compensation due to a legal technicality. He has since fought to get the papers relating to his dismissal.

When Leach came on the Palouse in 2012, Washington State had endured eight consecutive seasons in which they failed to win a game. But in his second season, he guided the Cougars to a bowl game. From 2015 to 2018, he won at least eight games each season, including 11 in 2018.

Mumme recently spoke with ESPN about Mike, who has been in the spotlight for 15 to 20 years in the Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. Therefore, he is the person that everyone has looked to. He has triumphed in football contests in opposition to expectations.

In 2020, Leach took the helm at Mississippi State and relocated to the SEC. The viability of Leach’s spread offense in the most competitive football conference in the country had been questioned for years. Still, in his first game against LSU, the Bulldogs established an SEC record for passing yards.

Three grandkids, his wife Sharon, and children Janeen, Kim, Cody, and Kiersten all survive Leach.

When Leach was admitted to the hospital, Keenum and Brett gave Zach Arnett, the defensive coordinator, control of the football team. On January 2, the Bulldogs will play Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

The date of the memorial service for Leach, according to Brett, has not yet been decided. He claimed that the institution wanted to speak with Leach’s kin and give them time to plan their memorial services.

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