One day after being transported to a hospital following a medical emergency at his home, Mississippi State coach Mike Leach died Monday night due to complications from a heart condition, his family announced through the school. He was 61 years old.
“Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity,” his family said in a statement released by Mississippi State. “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.”
“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach,” said interim athletic director Bracky Brett. “College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.
“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.”
Leach arrived at Mississippi State in 2020 and guided the Bulldogs to a 19–17 record over the past three seasons. He is renowned as one of the developers of the pass-heavy Air Raid offense, which he helped mold under coach Hal Mumme at multiple stops over the course of a decade.
Leach attended BYU, where he played rugby and graduated in 1983. He began his coaching career at Cal Poly in ’87 and joined Mumme’s staff at Iowa Wesleyan College in ’89. He got his first FBS job when he followed Mumme to Kentucky in ’97, where he served as the offensive coordinator. He eventually left for Oklahoma to be the offensive coordinator under Bob Stoops in ’99.
Leach got his first head coaching job in 2000 at Texas Tech, where he subsequently led the Red Raiders to a decade of sustained success and record-setting offensive outputs. Texas Tech posted five top-25 finishes during Leach’s tenure, peaking at No. 12 in ’08.
Leach coached Washington State from 2012 through ’19, guiding the Cougars to six bowl appearances in eight years. His best season came in ’18, when the Cougars went 11–2 with a win in the Alamo Bowl and a No. 10 finish in the final AP poll, their first top-10 season in 15 years. Leach won the AFCA’s Coach of the Year Award as the nation’s top coach for his efforts.