STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – The college football world and Mississippi leaders are reacting to the death of Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach. He was 61.
Leach was taken on Sunday from Starkville, Mississippi, to the University of Mississippi
Medical Center in Jackson after suffering a “personal health issue,” MSU said.
The Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, reported that Leach suffered a heart attack.
“I was in 1st grade when Graham threw the ball to Crabtree against Texas. Thank you for giving me a chance as a 17 year old. From Wazzu, to Mississippi State I will never forget everything you taught me and the relationship we had. I will see you again someday coach,” said Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers.
“God bless the Leach family, friends, loved ones, team, coaches, students and staff. Everyone he met he had a lasting impression on. Their wasn’t a time that called for wisdom that he didn’t respond with reason. He was a truly IMPACTFUL person,” said Deion Sanders, head football coach of Jackson State University (JSU).
“I truly love Coach Leach and every minute I shared with him. I have been able to work with several of his former players and coaches, and they have told so many amazing stories about the impact he had on their lives. Going back to our years together in the Pac-12, I have always felt tremendous respect and admiration for coach, his unique personality and his innovative mind, and I can’t image college football without him. I’m grateful to be part of his final win, hug him and watch him walk off like the winner that he is. I know God is welcoming the pirate home now,” said Lane Kiffin, head coach for the Ole Miss football team.
“On behalf of the entire Ole Miss family, we are heartbroken by the tragic passing of Coach Leach. We join the rest of the college football community, the SEC family and the entire state of Mississippi in sharing our condolences with the Leach family and all of the student-athletes, coaches and others that were touched by his spirit. Please join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers,” said Keith Carter, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics for the University of Mississippi.
“A true legend to college football. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leach family and the Mississippi State community,” said the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) football team on Twitter.
“The life of Mike Leach touched thousands upon thousands of people through his coaching, leadership teaching and insightful commentary. We will miss Mike. Every conversation with Mike made you think. His humor, depth and point of view continually challenged all of us to think differently and reevaluate our perspectives. His innovative approach to the game contributed to the evolution of college football. We mourn his untimely passing as we offer our support to Mike’s wife, Sharon, their children and grandchildren, along with his current and former players, coaching colleagues and the Mississippi State community,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
“Mike Leach was a friend, and we are deeply saddened by his unexpected passing. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Mike over the last several years. I never knew quite where our conversations were going, but they always made me smile. He was an offensive innovator who always did things his way and was admired for it. His teams were well-coached and extremely challenging to defend. They played with poise and toughness, which is a credit to his leadership. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sharon, their children and the entire Mississippi State family,” said Nick Saban, head football coach of the University of Alabama.
“My friend Mike Leach… a pioneer, intellectual giant, provocateur and fearless warrior. A great man who impacted so many lives, including my own. Sharon, the entire Leach family, and MSU are in our hearts and prayers. Rest In Peace Mike. You made the world a better place,” said John Cohen, the director of Athletics at Auburn University. Cohen was previously the athletic director at Mississippi State.
“Mike Leach transformed college football forever. He was an innovator and a visionary whose authenticity and love for the game helped elevate the sport. He made an immeasurable impact on countless coaches, student-athletes, and fans. We celebrate his legacy, mourn his loss, and send our prayers and condolences to his family and loved ones,” said officials from Louisiana State University (LSU).
“I am heartbroken on the passing of Coach Leach. In 1999, he gave a kid out of Snow College in Utah a shot a major college football. He saw something in me when no one else did. Like so many across our sport, I am grateful for Coach Leach’s impact on my life both personally and professionally. His offensive philosophy and vision were ahead of his time, and they continue to shape the game today. Off the field, he was one of a kind – an incredible storyteller, a man full of wisdom and someone who always cared about his former players and coaches. I enjoyed our friendship over the years. My deepest condolences go out to Coach Leach’s family, his wife Sharon, his kids and grandkids and the entire Mississippi State football program,” said Josh Heupel, head football coach at the University of Tennessee.
“Mississippi State lost a great Coach. College football lost an innovator. A lot of young men lost their mentor. Fans lost a content superstar. And many of us lost a friend. I’m heartbroken,” said Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.).
“Mike Leach’s passing and the outpouring of sorrow, love, and support for him and his family reflects just how beloved he was as Mississippi State’s head coach and among football fans all over the country. We’ll miss his influential leadership, unforgettable personality, and character defined by sportsmanship. My prayers go out to his family, loved ones, and the Mississippi State community during this time of mourning,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).
“I’m sending my condolences and prayers to the family of Coach Mike Leach,” said Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
“Haley and I are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of MSU Coach Mike Leach. He will be deeply missed by the MSU community and fans across the country who appreciated his contribution to college football. Please continue to pray for his family and friends,” said Congressman Michael Guest (R-Miss.).