HomeSportsMike Leach, Mississippi State Head Football Coach, Dead at 61

Mike Leach, Mississippi State Head Football Coach, Dead at 61

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 61 after suffering a massive heart attack Sunday.

Leach passed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he was transported to by helicopter after being stabilized at Oktibbeha County Hospital. Per On3, Leach did not receive medical attention for 10-15 minutes after suffering the heart attack. EMTs used a defibrillator machine and delivered multiple shocks to restore normal heart rhythm. According to the Clarion Ledger, Leach may have suffered seizures with the possibility of brain damage.

Leach, also known as “The Pirate,” spent 35 years coaching in college football. He notably served as offensive coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan (1989-1991), Valdosta State (1992-96), Kentucky (1997-98) and Oklahoma (1999) before being named Texas Tech head football coach in 2000.

Leach spent 10 seasons in Lubbock, going 84-43 and finishing over .500 in every season. His tenure was highlighted by an 11-2 campaign in 2008 in which the Red Raiders played in the Cotton Bowl.

Washington State named Leach its head football coach in 2012, a position he held through the 2019 season. Leach guided the Cougars to a 55-47 record with six bowl game appearances. In 2018, Washington State finished 11-2 under Leach, its most wins in program history. Washington State capped off the campaign with a victory in the Alamo Bowl.

Mike Leach: Mastermind of the ‘Air Raid’ Offense

Leach took the Mississippi State job in 2020, bringing his famous “Air Raid” offense to the SEC. The Bulldogs improved in each season under Leach, finishing the 2022 regular season 8-4. Mississippi State will play Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Florida.

Leach popularized the “Air Raid” offense, with Texas Tech and Washington State putting up record offensive numbers during his tenures. In total, Leach’s passing attack paced the FBS six times at Texas Tech and four at Washington State.

Prior to his death, Leach received widespread support from fans and those in college football community. Texas Tech paid tribute to Leach, posting a photo on the video board at Jones AT&T Stadium. On it is a photo of Leach in front of a pirate flag and the phrase, “Swing your sword,” a mantra of Leach’s. The caption also read, “#SwingYourSword.”