Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach passes away; Chancellor Boyce, Keith Carter issue statements following his passing
OXFORD, Miss. — The news we all dreaded hearing finally came Tuesday morning in the form of a press release from Mississippi State relaying the sad news that head football coach Mike Leach passed away Monday at the age of 61.
The announcement began: “Mississippi State University Head Football Coach Michael Charles ‘Mike’ Leach passed away last night (Monday, Dec. 12) at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, following complications from a heart condition. He was 61.”
Leach had fallen ill at home over the weekend with what has been described as a heart-related incident before being flown to UMMC hospital in Jackson.
Coach Leach’s family issued a statement Tuesday:
“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. 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 press release from State included the following: “The accomplishments for Leach in his 21 years as a head coach were long and distinguished. A proven winner who established a culture of excellence at every stop of his career, Leach compiled a 158-107 (.596) record, guided his squads to 19 bowl games, produced seven seasons of at least nine victories, captured two conference division titles, became the winningest coach in Texas Tech history and set school records for bowl appearances at both Texas Tech (10) and Washington State (6). During 10 of those 21 seasons, Leach’s passing attack led the FBS – six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State.”
It’s quite hard for everyone, much less those of us in Mississippi, to realize it was just 20 days ago that we saw Coach Leach leading his team in what would be his final game on this earth — a win over the Rebels in the Egg Bowl.
Leach was named Mississippi State’s 34th head football coach on January 9, 2020, and was finishing his third season in Starkville and 21st, overall, as a head coach.
He led the Bulldogs to a 19-17 record during his tenure in Starkville, including an 8-4 mark in 2022. His teams made bowl appearances in all three seasons under Leach. Further, his offense led the SEC passing the last two seasons.
The Bulldogs beat seven AP Top 25 opponents under Leach, and that is tied for third most by a Mississippi State head coach.
Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin tweeted a heartfelt message following Coach Leach’s death:
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) December 13, 2022
Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce issued a statement Tuesday morning on the passing of Leach:
Statement from Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce on the passing of Mike Leach. pic.twitter.com/YBJJZ9APrd
— Ole Miss News (@OleMissNews) December 13, 2022
Keith Carter, Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics, also issued a statement on Leach’s passing:
— Keith Carter (@KeithCarterOM) December 13, 2022
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey made these comments:
It is a sad day and a brief statement does not fully capture the emotions and sense of loss present following Mike’s death. Leading as a coach is a unique role and Mike did it in his own unique way. Our deepest condolences to Sharon, the Leach family, and Mike’s many friends. https://t.co/MaTWeMhHp3
— Greg Sankey (@GregSankey) December 13, 2022
Somehow, even though we always want to win the game, especially when it’s the Egg Bowl, it seems fitting for the “Pirate,” as Coach Leach was affectionately known, to go out a winner, because that’s what he truly was in life.
Coach Leach is survived by his wife Sharon and their four children, Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.
Godspeed to the Pirate. He will be deeply missed.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.