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Following the tragic loss of head coach Mike Leach, the Mississippi State football team had to make a decision on whether or not to play in its bowl game. This notion of not playing was quickly shot down Tuesday, with the players ready to rally.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to play Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2, and according to people inside the athletic department the game will be played.
“The players are 100 percent behind playing this bowl game and doing what Coach Leach would expect them to do,” Interim AD Bracky Brett told Chris Low.
Mike Leach wouldn’t have it any other way, he would want to see his team compete on the field. The Bulldogs will be playing at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, which has a permanent Pirate Ship in the end zone.
I can’t imagine a better stadium or atmosphere to remember the “Pirate” – which Leach was commonly called.
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.
What Lane Kiffin Had To Say About Mike Leach
The Bulldogs finished the season by defeating Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, a game that will now be remembered forever.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin released a statement on the passing of Leach.
“I truly loved Coach Leach and every minute I shared with him. I have been able to work with several of his former players and coaches, and they have told me so many amazing stories about the impact he had on their lives. Going back to our years together in the Pac-12, I have always felt tremendous respect and admiration for Coach, his unique personality and his innovative mind, and I can’t imagine college football without him.
“I’m grateful to be part of his final win, hug him and watch him walk off like the winner that he is,” Kiffin added. “I know God is welcoming the Pirate home now.”
There will be a memorial for Mike Leach, which the school is putting together. Those details will be released over the next week.