Notre Dame football lights candle at the Grotto for Mike Leach


Mike Leach truly was a giant among men in the college football community. His

has sparked tributes and memorials across the country, including at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Notre Dame’s campus. 

The football team tweeted a message of support and picture of a candle with the Mississippi State logo Monday afternoon, prior to the announcement of Leach’s passing. 

The Grotto is a staple of Notre Dame’s campus, featuring prominently in Rudy and a favorite stopping point for fans before home football games. It’s not uncommon for alumni and fans to ask those on campus to light a candle in their honor. 

Despite enjoying a decades-long career across three different Power Five Conferences, Leach only faced the Irish once -- as an offensive coordinator with Oklahoma in 1999. The Sooners lost to the Irish 34-30 at Notre Dame stadium and the next season Leach took his first head coaching job with Texas Tech. 

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman tweeted his condolences on Tuesday, saying that Leach’s “immense impact on the college football world is very visible.”

While Leach never faced off against Notre Dame on the field as a head coach, the two schools often crossed paths competing for talent over the years, perhaps most notably Ian Book. Book originally committed to Leach and Washington State until a late offer from Notre Dame came along. The Sacrament product decided to take the opportunity and went on to become Notre Dame’s all-time winningest quarterback, leading them to two College Football Playoffs. 

In an interview with the Indy Star, Book said decommitting from Leach was a “very hard phone call,” but always appreciated how the coach took the news respectfully without laying on too much of a guilt trip.

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