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MSU HC Mike Leach Dies at Age 61 Following Complications from a Heart Condition

Adam WellsDecember 13, 2022

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 19: Mississippi State Bulldogs Head Coach Mike Leach addresses the media during the SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 19, 2022, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, GA.(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach has died at the age of 61.

The school announced on Tuesday that Leach died due to complications from a heart condition.

"Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather," the Leach family said in a 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."

The university announced on Sunday that Leach had a "personal health issue" at his home and was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center by ambulance.

In a follow-up statement on Monday, Leach was said to be in critical condition.

USC head coach Lincoln Riley and Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who both played for Leach at Texas Tech, paid tribute to their former coach:

Lincoln Riley @LincolnRiley

Coach-<br>You will certainly be missed, but your impact on so many will live on-<br><br>Thankful for every moment. You changed my life and so many others.<br><br>All of our prayers are with Sharon &amp; the Leach family-<br><br>Rest In Peace my friend🙏 <a href="https://t.co/C43e2MZvBB">pic.twitter.com/C43e2MZvBB</a>

Mark Dalton @CardsMarkD

Statement from Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury on the passing of Mike Leach, who was the head coach at Texas Tech during Kingsbury's record-setting career as a QB there: <a href="https://t.co/yleLkRHIOK">pic.twitter.com/yleLkRHIOK</a>

The University of Alabama issued a statement from Nick Saban about Leach:

Alabama Football @AlabamaFTBL

RIP. You will be missed, Pirate 🏴‍☠️ <a href="https://t.co/rja53aYG3s">pic.twitter.com/rja53aYG3s</a>

Leach just finished his third regular season as Bulldogs head coach. He was hired in January 2020 to replace Joe Moorhead. The California native improved his win total in each of his three seasons at Mississippi State, including an 8-4 mark in 2022.

A graduate of BYU in 1983, Leach moved into coaching four years later when he was hired as the offensive line coach at Cal Poly. He went on to spend 11 seasons from 1989 to 1999 as an assistant and offensive coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State, Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Texas Tech gave Leach his first head-coaching opportunity in 2000. He led the program to an 84-43 record in 10 seasons, including tying the school record with 11 wins in 2008.

Leach was hired to rebuild the Washington State football team in November 2011. He took over a program coming off five consecutive losing seasons. After a 3-9 record in his first season, the Cougars made bowl appearances in six of the next seven years.

Washington State won a school record 11 games during the 2018 season.

Leach went 158-107 with eight bowl wins in 21 seasons as a head coach. Current successful college coaches such as Riley, Sonny Dykes, Dave Aranda and Dana Holgorsen all worked under Leach during his career.