Mike Leach remembered across college football, sports world


The college football world is reeling following the news of Mike Leach’s death at age 61.

The Mississippi State head coach had one of the largest personalities in the sport, and certainly never shied from being his true, blue authentic self in front of the camera.

In addition to the larger-than-life persona off the field, Leach won on it – a lot. 

Leach, a two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and the Big 12’s Coach of the Year in 2008, finished with a 158-107 record as a head coach. His stints at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State will anchor his coaching biography, but the high-octane, "Air Raid" offense he brought to each Lubbock, Pullman and Starkville will live on long after him. 

Prior to serving as head coach at those three college towns, Leach led the Oklahoma Sooners offense under Hall of Famer Bob Stoops.

"RIP Mike my friend, you’ll always be cherished by Sooner Nation! Love and peace to Sharon and your children," Stoops wrote on Twitter, posted with an image of Leach on staff in Norman at the end of the 1990s.

The college football world lost an icon Monday night. Here’s how it has reacted upon receiving the news:

The Mike Leach coaching tree is something to beholden amongst college football diehards. 

Prominent national names like Lincoln Riley, Josh Heupel, Sonny Dykes and Kliff Kingsbury all started under Leach’s tutelage. 

Other coaches such as Dave Aranda, Sonny Cumbie, Dana Holgorsen, Seth Littrell, Art Briles, Ken Wilson, Neal Brown, Eric Morris, and Ruffin McNeill also got their starts under Leach’s program.

Riley, who is the lead man at USC after a successful career at OU, took to Twitter to pay tribute to Leach in a heartfelt response to the news of the coach’s passing.

“You will certainly be missed, but your impact on so many will live on,” Riley wrote. “Thankful for every moment. You changed my life and so many others.”

Kingsbury, the head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, also shared his thoughts on his former mentor’s death.

Heupel, who led the Oklahoma Sooners to a national championship in 2000 after Leach had taken the head coaching gig at Texas Tech, is now the head coach at Tennessee.

“I am heartbroken on the passing of Coach Leach," Heupel wrote on Twitter. "In 1999, he gave a kid out of Snow College in Utah a shot at major college football. He saw something in me when no one else did."

Heupel expressed gratitude towards his former coach who he clams had "impact on my life both personally and professionally."

"His offensive philosophy and vision were ahead of his time, and they continue to shape the game today," Heupel said. "Off the field, he was one of a kind – an incredible storyteller, a man full of wisdom and someone who always cared about his former players and coaches. I enjoyed our friendship over the years."

Beyond the immediacy of his own coaching tree, Leach’s passing drew a response from college coaches across the country including Deion Sanders – the recently hired new head coach at the University of Colorado.


“Everyone he met he had a lasting impression on,” the NFL Hall of Famer wrote on Instagram Tuesday. “There wasn't a time that called for wisdom that he didn't respond with reason. He was a truly IMPACTFUL person.” 

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