Mississippi State Football Coach Mike Leach Passes Away At 61

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Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach passed away Monday at 61 years old.

Leach died from complications related to a heart condition. He was transported to Starkville Hospital on Sunday morning after he suffered what the school said was a “personal health issue” at his his home in Starkville. Leach later was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died.

He’s survived by his wife, Sharon, and four children. 

Leach was on the sideline Saturday for the Bulldogs opening practice for the upcoming ReliaQuest Bowl. He later attended a media Christmas party that night.

Mississippi State is scheduled to face Illinois on Jan. 2, 2022 at Raymond James Stadium.

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Head coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Leach was known as one of the most colorful coaches in college football. He led Mississippi State to an 8-4 record this season. Mississippi State was 19-17 in his three years in Starkville.

“The life of Mike Leach touched thousands upon thousands of people through his coaching, leadership teaching and insightful commentary,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “We will miss Mike. Every conversation with Mike made you think. His humor, depth and point of view continually challenged all of us to think differently and reevaluate our perspectives. His innovative approach to the game contributed to the evolution of college football.

“We mourn his untimely passing as we offer our support to Mike’s wife, Sharon, their children and grandchildren, along with his current and former players, coaching colleagues and the Mississippi State community.”

Mike Leach Success At Washington State And Texas Tech

Leach led Washington State to a 55-47 record, after previously leading Texas Tech to a 84-43 mark. He earned National Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and was the winningest coach in school history during his stint in Lubbock.

He led Texas Tech to the No. 1 national ranking in the country in 2008 with his ‘Air Raid’ offense, which was the talk of college football, still to this day.

Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Leach was known for his outspoken candor with the media. He was not afraid to hold anything back and often used his press conferences to discuss his love for World War II, pirates, mascots, and many other topics. During the 2022 SEC Media Days, Commissioner Greg Sankey gave Leach one of the best introductions in the history of the event.

Moments ago the Leach family released the following statement:

Alabama coach Nick Saban released the following statement on the passing of Mike Leach.

“Mike Leach was a friend, and we are deeply saddened by his unexpected passing. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Mike over the last several years. I never knew quite where our conversations were going but they always made me smile. He was an offensive innovator who always did things his way and was admired for it. His teams were well-coached and extremely challenging to defend. They played with poise and toughness, which is a credit to his leadership. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sharon, their children and the entire Mississippi State family.”

OutKick sends prayers to the family of Mike Leach, and to the Mississippi State community over the loss of one of the most impactful coaches in college football history.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.


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  1. This hits hard. The pirate was literally respected by everyone. You can’t find many that didn’t respect him in anything that he contributed towards. Truly a sad day for CFB, his family, fans, and players, past and present. There are not many who have not been touched, even in the slightest, by coach Mike Leach. Though only for a minute out of time, your sword now swings correct again, coach.

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