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Mississippi State college football coach Mike Leach dies after heart attack

(NEW YORK) — Mississippi State head football coach Mike Leach has died following a heart attack on Sunday. Leach was 61 years old.

The school announced Leach’s death Tuesday morning.

“Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather,” the Leach family said in a statement. “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.”

Leach was beloved by fans and the media for his folksy attitude and blunt interviews. Social media was filled with video clips of Leach on Sunday and Monday after it was announced he’d suffered a heart attack over the weekend.

Leach took over as coach at Mississippi State in 2020 and led the team to a 19-17 record over three seasons. The team, currently ranked No. 22 in the country, finished 8-4 this season and is slated to face Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2.

He first rose to attention nationally at Texas Tech, where he coached from 2000 to 2009. He had an 84-43 record in 10 seasons. He was 5-4 in bowl games. He was voted the American Football Coaches Association national coach of the year in 2008.

Leach was famous for his love of pirates, even making a cameo on the TV show Friday Night Lights, telling Coach Eric Taylor to “find his inner pirate.”

After Texas Tech, Leach went to Washington State, where he was 55-47 in eight seasons. Ten years after his first coach of the year award, he won it again in 2018. The Cougars finished that season with an 11-2 record and a win in the Alamo Bowl. He finished at No. 10 that season, his highest end-of-year ranking in his career.

Leach was known as an offensive innovator. He coached future NFL quarterbacks including Kliff Kingsbury, now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and Gardner Minshew. Other quarterbacks went on to have successful coaching careers, like Sunny Cumbie, the current head coach at Louisiana Tech, and Graham Harrell, West Virginia’s offensive coordinator.

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