Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach died Monday night following complications from a heart condition, the university announced in a statement. Leach was 61.
“Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather,” the Leach family said in the statement. “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.”
On Sunday, MSU athletics confirmed that Leach had been hospitalized for a “personal health issue” and was eventually transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
Earlier on Monday, the school said that Leach remained in critical condition at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and that his family was with him.
Leach was in his third season with the Bulldogs, having compiled a 19-17 record in Starkville. He had served as a college football head coach for 21 seasons, with previous stops at Texas Tech (2000-09) and Washington State (2012-19).
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Leach posted a 158-107 record and 16 winning seasons during his time as a coach. He led his programs to 18 bowl games, winning eight of those.
Known as an offensive strategist who is credited as being one of the originators of the high-powered “Air Raid” passing offense, Leach was also known for his often eccentric responses to questions asked at news conferences. Of the 50 most productive individual seasons for passing yards in FBS history, 10 of them are by players who were on teams that Leach coached.
In 2018, after leading Washington State to its first 11-win season in program history, Leach won the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year award. He was also honored in 2008 with three national coach of the year awards, following Texas Tech’s 11-2 campaign.
On Sunday, Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum and interim athletic director Bracky Brett said in a statement that defensive coordinator Zach Arnett would be “in charge of the MSU football team” during Leach’s absence.
The Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) had been scheduled to face Illinois (8-4, 5-4 Big 10) in the ReliaQuest Bowl Jan. 2 (11 a.m., ESPN) in Tampa, Florida. It is unclear if the game will be played.
Story Credit: usatoday.com