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Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach Has Passed At 61

In a press release on hailstate.com, it was confirmed that Mississippi State University Head Football Coach Mike Leach passed away Monday night, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, following complications from a heart condition. He was 61 years old.


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."  


Leach was known for building potent offenses and directing pass oriented teams in a spread offense system, commonly known as the Air Raid, which Leach developed with Hal Mumme, when Mumme was head coach and Leach was his offensive coordinator, at several stops including Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State and Kentucky in the 1990s. Leach's offenses with Mumme, and later as a head coach himself, have broken numerous school and NCAA records.


Leach later took his offense to Oklahoma University, where he was offensive coordinator for Bob Stoops in 1999. He left Norman for a head coaching position at Texas Tech, where he worked from 2000 to 2009. He then went to Washington State from 2012 to 2019. After leaving Pullman, he arrived in Starkville and brought his offense to the Bulldogs, winning 19 games in three seasons.


Leach’s offensive prowess also spawned a vast coaching tree, which includes:


  • Dave Aranda – Baylor head coach – Graduate assistant coach under Leach from 2000 to 2002 at Texas Tech when Leach was head coach of the Red Raiders

  • Neal Brown – West Virginia head coach – Played under Leach as a wide receiver in 1998 when Leach was offensive coordinator at Kentucky

  • Sonny Cumbie – Louisiana Tech head coach – Played under Leach as a quarterback from 2000 to 2003 when Leach was head coach at Texas Tech, then later in the decade, served as a graduate assistant coach under Leach

  • Sonny Dykes – TCU head coach – Coached wide receivers and later was the co-offensive coordinator under Leach from 2000 through 2006 when Leach was head coach at Texas Tech

  • Josh Heupel – Tennessee head coach – Played quarterback under Leach at Oklahoma in 1999 when Leach was the offensive coordinator for the Sooners

  • Dana Holgorson – Houston head coach – Coached alongside Leach as assistants at Valdosta State from 1993 to 1995, then served as a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator under Leach from 2000 to 2007 when Leach was head coach at Texas Tech

  • Kliff Kingsbury – Arizona Cardinals (NFL) head coach – Played quarterback for Leach from 2000 to 2002 when Leach was head coach at Texas Tech

  • Seth Littrell – North Texas head coach – Played quarterback under Leach at Oklahoma in 1999 when Leach was offensive coordinator for the Sooners, then later served as running backs coach at Texas Tech from 2005 through 2008 when Leach was head coach of the Red Raiders

  • Lincoln Riley – USC head coach – Played quarterback for Leach in 2002 when Leach was head coach at Texas Tech, then joined Leach's Red Raider staff from 2003 through 2009, first as a student assistant before working his way up to being a wide receivers coach

  • Ken Wilson – Nevada head coach – Linebackers coach under Leach from 2013 through 2019 when Leach was head coach at Washington State


Mike Leach’s influence on college football can not be overstated. He was “The Pirate”, whose infectious personality and odd sense of humor endeared him to most he knew. He will be missed by so many.

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