Mississippi State Honors Mike Leach With New Helmets, A Great View From Tampa’s Pirate Ship, Other Tributes

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It was always going to be a special day for Mississippi State football, as they honored Mike Leach in their bowl game. The Pirate, who died Dec. 12, is being remembered today in Tampa, with a number of tributes from the Bulldog athletic department.

UPDATE: Mississippi State defeated Illinois 19-10, with the Bulldogs kicking a last-second field goal to win it. The game ended with State returning a Illinois fumble for the touchdown, almost as if Mike Leach was getting one final laugh for anyone who bet the Bulldogs (-3.5). A gritty win for QB Will Rogers and this Mississippi State team, who didn’t lead until the final few seconds.

Following the win, QB Will Rogers grabbed the ‘Mike’ flag and headed for the Mississippi State section to celebrate.

There were also sparks flying after the game, as running back coach Jason Washington proposed to his girlfriend on the first. If you recall, Mike Leach provided some fantastic wedding advice for all the folks planning to walk down the aisle. Just elope, as the ‘Pirate’ pointed out to Alyssa Lang.

It’s only fitting that the stadium hosting today’s game has a permanent pirate ship, which is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Mississippi State football program has made this a day to remember. Thanks to the bowl game and Bulldog officials, Mike Leach’s photo is currently aboard the ship surrounded by flowers.

He certainly has the best seat in the house.


Mississippi State Honors Mike Leach With Helmet Decal

In another tribute, Mississippi State players will be wearing helmets with a ‘Pirate’ decal to honor their former coach. The gesture was a surprise to Bulldog players, who did not know the team would be honoring Leach in this way. This was already going to be an emotional day for the college football community, but this truly tugged at the heart, judging by the responses on social media.

Mississippi State honors Mike Leach with a pirate decal. Courtesy of MSU Athletics.

The emotional day started with a call to action, as the Bulldogs video department released a ‘one last ride’ video for the game today. The stories of Mike Leach will never fall short of amazing, as the college football world has remembered him over the last month.

Officials at Raymond James Stadium also paid tribute to Leach.

Massimo Biscardi #29 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs stands near a memorial logo painted on the field for Mike Leach prior to the ReliaQuest Bowl.. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Mississippi State marching band honors Mike Leach before game

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers lined his offense up in the ‘Air Raid’ formation to start the game, taking a delay of game. The Bulldog offense then pointed to the sky and saluted the former head coach.

Today’s game serves as a way for the Mississippi State program to honor its fallen captain, while also giving the fans a chance to watch this ‘Air Raid’ offense, just the way Leach would draw it up. Thanks to the folks in Tampa and the Bulldogs athletic department, the bowl game was a fantastic way to remember a man who was influential to so many people.

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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