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Texas Tech mourns passing of former Coach Mike Leach

Texas Tech mourns passing of former Coach Mike Leach

Texas Tech is paying tribute following the passing of former Head Coach Mike Leach.

Leach died Monday night following complications from a heart condition, according to Mississippi State. He was in the midst of his third season as head coach at the time of his death. He was 61.

A legendary, innovative coach whose “Air Raid” defense changed the game, Leach was also known nationally for his quirky, infectious personality. Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum aptly described Leach as having a “keen intellect and unvarnished candor” that captured hearts wherever he went.

He coached at Texas Tech from 2000-2009, where he led record-setting offenses to become the program’s winningest coach at 84-43 overall. In 2008, he led the Red Raiders to 11 regular season wins, including the defeat of No. 1 Texas that season, pushing Texas Tech to as high as No. 2 in the national rankings on its way to the Cotton Bowl. His impact at the university along will “live on in history,” according to Texas Tech Athletics.

“Coach Leach quickly built a legacy here at Texas Tech that will never be forgotten,” university officials said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Leach’s wife, Sharon, and their entire family during this difficult time.”

After his Texas Tech tenure, Leach spent eight seasons at Washington State (55-47 record). At the time of this passing, he was nearing the completion of his third season at Mississippi State, where he was already making a significant impact. Last season, MSU beat final College Football Playoff Top 25 teams three times, and played a nation-leading six games against teams in that ranking.

“Of the 50 most productive passing yardage seasons in FBS history, 10 have come from quarterbacks coached by Leach since his hiring as head coach at Texas Tech in 2000,” according to MSU. “That includes one season by Kliff Kingsbury, one by B.J. Symons (2003), one by Sonny Cumbie, three by Graham Harrell (2006-08), one by Connor Halliday, one by Luke Falk (2015), one by Gardner Minshew II (2018) and one by Anthony Gordon (2019).”

Leach’s family added another important layer to Leach’s legacy, describing him as “a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather.”

“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,” the family said in a statement. “Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”

Added Keenum, “I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.”