Mississippi State family mourns the passing of Mike Leach

12 hours ago
Mississippi State Athletics

Photo: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Mississippi State University head football coach Michael Charles “Mike” Leach died Monday night at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, from heart complications . He was 61 years old.

In a statement, the Leach family said: “Mike was a generous and caring husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation to UMMC as a final 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 the life of our beloved husband and father.

Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum said, “Coach Mike Leach has cast a tremendous shadow over not just Mississippi State University, but the entire landscape. college football. His innovative “Air Raid” attack was a game-changer. 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, honesty and open approach to pursuit. excellence in all things.

“Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty in our lives. Three weeks ago Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought win at Oxford. Mike Leach has truly embraced life and lived so that no one is left. This is a worthy legacy. God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The Bulldog family’s prayers are with them,” Keenum added.

MSU Acting Director of Athletics Bracky Brett said: “We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football has lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last 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, a trailblazer and a visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend, but an even better person,” Brett added. “We are all better off to have 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, who was named Mississippi State’s 34th football head coach on Jan. 9, 2020, was completing his third season in Starkville and his 21st as head coach. Forever a college football icon, he leaves an incredible legacy as a husband, father, friend and leader of young men.

The eldest of six siblings, Leach and his wife Sharon shared four children: Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.

Born in Susanville, California to Frank and Sandra Leach, Leach grew up in Cody, Wyoming.

After graduating with honors from BYU in 1983 where he played rugby, Leach earned a master’s degree from the US Sports Academy and his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University, where he graduated in the first third of his class.

For nearly four decades, Leach had an unparalleled impact on football, including thousands of student-athletes, coaches and staff. He was a two-time National Coach of the Year, a three-time Power 5 Conference Coach of the Year, and the mastermind behind the NCAA record-breaking “Air Raid” offense.

Prior to becoming head coach at Mississippi State in 2020, Leach also served as head coach at Texas Tech and Washington State.

During his 21 seasons as head coach, Leach’s teams appeared in a total of 19 bowl games. Seven times his teams recorded nine or more wins in a season, and his career record was 158-107 (.596 winning percentage).

Leach was 19-17 in his three seasons at Mississippi State, including an 8-4 record this season. The Bulldogs are scheduled to face Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on January 2.

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