Skip to content
Bulldog community mourns death of...

Bulldog community mourns death of Mississippi State Football Coach Mike Leach

By: Sarah Ulmer - December 13, 2022

Mississippi State University confirmed the death of their Head Football Coach early Tuesday morning. 

According to a statement released by Mississippi State University early Tuesday morning, Head Football Coach Michael Charles “Mike” Leach passed away Monday night at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson following heart complications. He was 61 years old.

“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 Leach family said in a statement.

MSU President Mark Keenum and Interim Athletic Director Bracky Brett released statements regarding the late coach.

MSU President Mark Keenum

“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, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things. Mike’s death also underscores the fragility and uncertainty of our lives. Three weeks ago, Mike and I were together in the locker room celebrating a hard-fought victory in Oxford. Mike Leach truly embraced life and lived in such a manner as to leave no regrets. That’s a worthy legacy. May God bless the Leach family during these days and hours. The prayers of the Bulldog family go with them.”

MSU Interim Athletics Director Bracky Brett

“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. Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades. Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person. We are all better for having known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.”

Leach worked as Mississippi State’s 34th head football coach since January 2020. He was oldest of six siblings. Leach and his wife Sharon have four children: Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten. Leach was born in Susanville, California to Frank and Sandra Leach, and was raised in Cody, Wyoming. After graduating with honors from BYU in 1983 where he played rugby, Leach earned a master’s degree from the U.S. Sports Academy and his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University, where he graduated in the top one-third of his class.

For nearly four decades, Leach had an unmatched impact on the game of football including thousands of student-athletes, coaches and staff. He was a two-time national coach of the year, three-time Power 5 conference coach of the year and the mastermind behind the NCAA record-setting “Air Raid” offense.

He was one of the most accomplished coaches in college football with a 158-107 record, 19 bowl games and seven seasons of at least nine victories. He 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.

MSU described Leach as “a passionate educator, mentor, historian and lifelong learner, Leach had great admiration for academics. He instilled that in his players, as his teams routinely set records for GPA and graduation rate. A masterful storyteller, Leach authored a New York Times best-selling autobiography in 2011 titled Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and in Life. He later wrote Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior in 2014.”

The architect of the most prolific passing offense in the country, Leach received three national coach of the year awards in 2008 – the Woody Hayes Award, Howie Long/Fieldturf Coach of the Year and George Munger Award. Leach’s offense captured six NCAA passing titles and three total offense titles during his 10 seasons in Lubbock.

Here’s what others are saying about Coach Leach:

Governor Tate Reeves

Senator Roger Wicker

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith

Attorney General Lynn Fitch

Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce

Congressman Michael Guest

Congressman Bennie Thompson

Commissioner Brandon Presley

Commissioner Dane Maxwell

Sid Salter

John Cohen

Southern Miss Football

SportsCenter – ESPN

Will Rogers

Kentucky Football

Alabama Football

Texas Tech

Ole Miss AD Keith Carter

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: