Leach died overnight from health complications that arose from his heart condition at the Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and donated his organs as “a final act of charity,” his family said. Renowned in the college football world, Leach was in his third season as Mississippi State’s head coach.
“Coach Mike Leach passed away last night from complications related to a heart condition. He 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.
“We are 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,” his family continued.
Leach had been taken to the hospital Sunday for a “critical” medical emergency. Although officials were tight-lipped on the specifics of his condition at the time, Robbie Faulk, a 247 Sports reporter, suggested the outlook was dire, tweeting “Leach needs a miracle.”
Throughout his 21 seasons as a coach, Leach was 158-107 in his win-to-loss ratio, gaining a reputation for his sharp offensive techniques and quirky demeanor. He previously worked at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009 and at Washington State from 2012 to 2019. In 2018, he won the American Football Coaches Association coach of the year award.
His 158-winning record was the second-highest among Southeastern Conference coaches and fifth among active Power 5 coaches, per HailState.com.
“Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape. His innovative ‘Air Raid’ offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university,” Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum mourned in a statement.
Leach helped pioneer the so-called “air raid” offensive which features a split of the offensive linemen and generally seeks to widen the opposing defensive line. Sometimes nicknamed the “Pirate,” Leach enjoyed discussing the pirates, history, politics, and more, ESPN reported.
Leach is survived by his wife Sharon and four children Janeen, Kimberly, Cody, and Kiersten. He was the oldest of six children.