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Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach dead at 61

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

In a statement through the school on Tuesday, Leach’s family said the longtime college football coach died Monday night due to complications from a heart condition, noting that Leach participated in an organ donation as a “final act of charity.” 

“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,” Leach’s family said in a statement. “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.” 

Leach was transported via helicopter to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) after suffering a massive heart attack and collapsing at his residence in Starkville on Sunday, according to the Clarion Ledger

Sources told the Mississippi-based newspaper that Leach may have suffered seizures that led to the possibility of brain damage, with the school saying in a previous statement that the veteran football coach was in “critical condition” at the UMMC facility.

Leach, who was in his third season as the Bulldogs’ head coach, told sports media outlet ESPN that he battled with pneumonia throughout the regular season but stated that he was feeling better. 

Leach, the mastermind behind the prolific “Air Raid” offense, began his football coaching career in 1987 as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator for multiple university football programs, such as the University of Kentucky and the University of Oklahoma.

Leach, also known for his humorous personality off the field, spent the last 21 seasons as a head coach in college football, making previous stops at Texas Tech University and Washington State University, leading all of his teams to numerous bowl game appearances and conference titles and compiling 158 victories throughout his career. 

Leach’s Bulldogs, who finished their 2022 regular season with an 8-4 record, are set to play against the University of Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl on January 2nd. The school named defensive coordinator Zach Arnett as the interim head coach when Leach was hospitalized, ESPN reported.

A number of prominent sports figures, including former Texas Tech quarterback and head coach and current Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, expressed their condolences about Leach’s death

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever,” Mississippi State University interim Athletics Director Bracky Brett said in a statement, referring to Leach, nicknamed “The Pirate,” as an “ innovator, pioneer and visionary.” 

“Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades,” Brett added.

Tags College football Nick Saban

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