Former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach passes away at 61

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Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach passed away on xx at 61 years of age. The long-time eccentric college football coach known affectionately as “The Pirate” was an offensive innovator best known for the proliferation of the Air-Raid offense along with Hal Mumme. He was 158-107 in 21 seasons as a head coach with stops at Texas Tech, Washington State, and Mississippi State, where he arrived in 2020. 

Leach began his legend in Lubbock where he led the Red Raiders to an 84-43 overall record and a 47-33 mark in Big 12 play. Texas Tech won at least eight games in his final eight years in charge and finished with a .500 or better record in nine of his 10 seasons at the helm. Texas Tech went 12 seasons without a .500 or better mark in Big 12 play following his controversial exit following the 2019 season. 

His next stop was in the Pac-12 at Washington State, where he made the Cougars a consistent contender. He never had the biggest budget or most furtile recruiting ground in his conference, but that didn’t stop him from competing. Leach was 55-47 at Washington State with at least eight wins in four of his final seasons. He was the two-time conference coach of the year. 

Leach’s final stop was in the SEC at Mississippi State. He was 19-17 overall and 11-15 in the SEC over three seasons. The Bulldogs finished with a 4-4 record in conference play in 2021 and 2022, reaching at least seven overall wins in both of those seasons. 

He took an unusual path to college football. Leach wasn’t a former player. He played rugby while attending BYU during the high-flying passing days of LaVell Edwards and Norm Chow. His coaching career began in 1987 as an assistant at Cal Poly after he finished his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law. 

Leach’s career took a significant turn when he joined Mumme’s staff at Iowa Wesleyan University in 1989. The duo remained together through stops at Valdosta State and Kentucky. He struck out on his own when he joined Bob Stoops’ staff at Oklahoma in 1999. 

He became known for the Air-Raid offense and putting together young, innovative coaching staffs. 

The 2022 season in the state of Texas painted a flattering picture of Leach’s impact on the game. TCU head coach Sonny Dykes was on Texas Tech’s staff early in the century as one of the receiver coaches, and a former offensive coordinator of Dykes’ – Rhett Lashlee – is in charge at SMU. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda was a GA at Texas Tech during Leach’s reign. Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen and North Texas head coach was also on that staff as assistants. 

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