Mississippi State coach Mike Leach dies after hospitalization

Mississippi State soccer coach Mike Leach died Monday evening after issues associated to a coronary heart situation, the varsity introduced. He was 61.

Leach’s household mentioned, in a press release launched Tuesday by the varsity, that Leach participated in organ donation on the College of Mississippi Medical Middle 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,” Leach’s household mentioned. “Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”

Leach suffered what the college initially described in a information launch as a “personal health issue” at his residence in Starkville on Sunday, which required him to be airlifted to the UMMC in Jackson, about 125 miles from Mississippi State.

Leach, in his third season as Mississippi State’s coach, had advised ESPN after the common season concluded that he struggled with pneumonia through the season however was feeling higher. He was at apply Saturday earlier than struggling his well being subject on Sunday.

Information of him falling gravely unwell swept by means of faculty soccer the previous few days and left many who knew him shocked, hoping and praying for Leach’s restoration beneath grim circumstances.

“Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape,” college president Mark E. Keenum mentioned in a press release. “His innovative ‘Air Raid’ offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.

“Mike’s dying additionally underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks in the past, Mike and I had been collectively within the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach actually embraced life and lived in such a fashion as to depart no regrets. That is a worthy legacy. Could God bless the Leach household throughout nowadays and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog household go together with them.”

Leach was in his third head-coaching stint, with a 19-17 record for the Bulldogs, 8-4 this season. He was at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009 and Washington State from 2012 to 2019. He was the AFCA national coach of the year in 2018 at Washington State.

“We’re heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach,” Mississippi State interim athletic director Bracky Brett said in a statement. “Faculty soccer misplaced one in every of its most beloved figures at the moment, however his legacy will final perpetually. Mike’s energetic persona, influential presence and extraordinary management touched thousands and thousands of athletes, college students, coaches, followers, household and associates for many years.

“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person. We are all better for having 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.”

Identified for his prolific Air Raid offenses, Leach was 158-107 in his 21 seasons as a head coach. He was additionally recognized for his quirky persona, dry wit, and penchant for speaking about historical past, enterprise and politics (and, actually, absolutely anything else) as comfortably as he did quarterbacks making the correct reads and receivers working the correct routes.

4 of the 9 highest single-season passing yardage totals in FBS historical past — and 7 of the highest 26 — got here beneath quarterbacks coached by Leach.

Calling performs from a folded piece of paper smaller than an index card, Leach turned passers equivalent to B.J. Symons (448.7 yards per recreation), Graham Harrell (438.8), Connor Halliday (430.3) and Anthony Gordon (429.2) into record-setters and Heisman Trophy contenders.

His 158 profession wins had been ranked fifth amongst energetic FBS coaches this season.

Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who performed three seasons beneath Leach at Texas Tech and was the Pink Raiders’ head coach from 2013 to 2018, mentioned Tuesday that the game of soccer “was better because of Mike Leach and is far less interesting without him.”

“There is no way I would be where I am today if not for Mike Leach and everything he taught me about the game,” Kingsbury mentioned. “Truly one of the most innovative offensive minds in football, he was more than a coach. He was a mentor, a friend and one of the most special people I’ve ever met.”

Along with Kingsbury and Tennessee’s Josh Heupel, Leach’s intensive teaching tree contains USC’s Lincoln Riley, TCU’s Sonny Dykes and Houston’s Dana Holgorsen.

“It’s hard to put into words the impact that Mike Leach had on the players he coached, the game of football and me personally,” Dykes mentioned Tuesday. “He was a unique personality and independent thinker and a great friend. No one had a greater influence on my life other than my father.”

Alabama coach Nick Saban mentioned in a press release that he’s “deeply saddened” by Leach’s “unexpected passing.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Mike over the last several years,” Saban mentioned. “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.”

Nicknamed the “Pirate,” Leach had an affinity for pirates and even had a life-sized statue of a singing pirate in his workplace when he was at Washington State. It was a present from Corridor of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight, who was the basketball coach at Texas Tech when Leach was in Lubbock as soccer coach.

By no means one to draw back from opining on any topic, Leach as soon as quipped, “I miss streakers,” after a fan ran onto the sphere and dropped his pants following a landing in Washington State’s 24-21 win over Stanford in 2017. And after Donald Trump gained the presidential election in 2016, Leach congratulated Trump through textual content and supplied to be Trump’s “Secretary of Offense.”

Leach had numerous pursuits. He was an avid outdoorsman and beloved to journey, particularly to his favourite spot in Key West, Florida. He graduated within the higher 25% of his class with a legislation diploma from Pepperdine College and co-authored a e book on Geronimo and the Apache chief’s strategy to management.

“Every conversation with Mike made you think,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned. “His humor, depth and point of view continually challenged all of us to think differently and reevaluate our perspectives.”

Leach, who grew up principally in Cody, Wyoming, earned his undergraduate diploma from BYU, the place he performed rugby. He did not play soccer in faculty however intently studied Corridor of Fame BYU coach LaVell Edwards and his offense.

After receiving his legislation diploma in 1986, Leach started his soccer teaching profession at Cal Poly in 1987, then joined Hal Mumme’s employees at Iowa Wesleyan in 1989. Mumme, the creator of the Air Raid offense that made Leach a celebrity in teaching, mentioned Leach deserved a whole lot of credit score for turning the scheme right into a model title. Leach labored for Mumme as offensive line coach at Iowa Wesleyan and in addition served as a de facto publicist, sending out information releases to nationwide newspapers in regards to the workforce’s high-flying exploits.

“When you say, ‘Air Raid,’ he was the guy who came up with the name,” Mumme advised ESPN in a latest interview. “He came up with the name so that we would be able to publicize it, and it’s probably fitting since he’s been the guy who took it the furthest.”

Leach adopted Mumme to Valdosta State and Kentucky, the place quarterback Tim Sofa blossomed and have become the No. 1 decide within the 1999 NFL draft.

“We had some disagreements,” Mumme, who’s retired, mentioned Tuesday. “Like, I’m kind of the opposite on the aliens/ Bigfoot deal. And we used to have arguments over Quanah Parker and Geronimo. I’m a Quanah Parker guy. And, over Comanches and Apaches, who were the better warriors.

“… We just about agreed on pirates. And, we just about had settlement on Civil Struggle historical past. We disagreed on issues like Whataburger and In-N-Out Burger. I imply, we most likely lined all of it. We had been collectively for 10 years and we did a whole lot of that.”

Leach spent the 1999 season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, dramatically improving the Sooners’ offense with quarterback Josh Heupel under coach Bob Stoops, before landing his first head-coaching job at Texas Tech in 2000.

“I’m heartbroken on the passing of Coach Leach,” said Heupel, who is now the head coach at Tennessee. “In 1999, he gave a child out of Snow Faculty in Utah a shot at main faculty soccer. He noticed one thing in me when nobody else did. Like so many throughout our sport, I’m grateful for Coach Leach’s influence on my life each personally and professionally. His offensive philosophy and imaginative and prescient had been forward of his time, they usually proceed to form the sport at the moment.

“Off the field, he was one of a kind — an incredible storyteller, a man full of wisdom and someone who always cared about his former players and coaches. I enjoyed our friendship over the years.”

Leach developed record-setting offenses at Texas Tech and quarterbacks equivalent to Kingsbury and Harrell. The Pink Raiders went 11-2 in 2008 and completed within the AP Prime 25 in 5 of Leach’s closing six seasons as coach.

“Coach Leach will be forever remembered as one of the most innovative offensive minds in college football history,” Texas Tech mentioned in a press release. “His impact on Texas Tech Football alone will live on in history as one of the greatest tenures in the history of our program. From his 84 wins to his record-setting offenses, Coach Leach quickly built a legacy here at Texas Tech that will never be forgotten.”

He coached 10 seasons at Texas Tech earlier than being fired on Dec. 30, 2009. A former participant, Adam James, the son of former ESPN announcer and NFL participant Craig James, accused Leach of mistreating him after he suffered a concussion. Leach was suspended on Dec. 28, 2009, after which fired for what the college termed a “defiant act of insubordination.” He sued the college for wrongful termination, and he misplaced a bid for financial damages due to a authorized technicality however has continued to battle to get information pertaining to his dismissal.

Washington State had suffered by means of eight straight non-winning seasons when Leach arrived on the Palouse in 2012. However he led the Cougars to a bowl recreation in his second season and, from 2015 to 2018, gained a minimum of eight video games each season, together with 11 in 2018.

“Mike is a guy who’s been in the limelight for 15 or 20 years, in the Big 12, the Pac-12, the SEC,” Mumme mentioned in a latest interview with ESPN. “So he’s the guy who everybody has looked to. He’s won football games at places you’re not supposed to win.”

Leach moved to the SEC in 2020, taking on at Mississippi State. After years of questions on whether or not Leach’s unfold offense could possibly be profitable within the nation’s most gifted soccer convention, the Bulldogs set an SEC file for yards passing in his very first recreation towards defending nationwide champion LSU.

Leach is survived by his spouse, Sharon; youngsters Janeen, Kim, Cody and Kiersten; and three grandchildren.

Keenum and Brett had positioned defensive coordinator Zach Arnett in control of the soccer program when Leach was hospitalized. The Bulldogs are set to face Illinois within the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2.

Brett mentioned Mississippi State would maintain a memorial for Leach on campus, however when was nonetheless be to decided. He mentioned the varsity first wished to seek the advice of with Leach’s relations and permit them to make their very own preparations for providers first.

ESPN’s Chris Low, Adam Rittenberg and Dave Wilson and The Related Press contributed to this report.