(Mandatory Image Credit: Gary Cosby, Jr / Tuscaloosa News)
Written By: Joseph Yun
This is an article I did not want to write for many more years but it is with great sadness and a sense of duty that it must be done. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mike Leach and his players at this time.
According to the Clarion Ledger in Mississippi, MSU head coach Mike Leach suffered a heart attack at his home on Sunday afternoon. He was airlifted to Jackson’s (the state capital) University of Mississippi Medical Center to receive further medical attention.
Steve Robertson, a widely acclaimed author, journalist, and devout Bulldogs fan has reported on the news with pure 100% class for his 247Sports website, Genespage.com. Please give him a follow. He’s one of the best in the media business.
On Tuesday morning, Mississippi State announced the tragic passing of Coach Leach via their social media account
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement about the passing
Leach, 61, was the protégé of Hal Mumme, who was the godfather of the famed “Air Raid” offense, while at Kentucky in the late 1990s. Mumme may have founded the modern-day version of the offensive style but Leach is credited with being the consiglière turned Godfather himself. He perfected the offense that we see stylistic concepts of at all levels of organized football.
As a head coaching career that spanned 22 years, he tutored some of the brightest coaching minds such as Sonny Dykes, Lincoln Riley, and Dana Holgerson. Players like Kliff Kingsbury, Josh Heupel, and Sonny Cumbie became coaches in their own right, carrying the Air Raid flag forward. His legacy will live on through the generations via his unique brand's offshoots.
It can be argued that he is the most influential football titan of the past 30 years regardless of level. The spirit of the Air Raid can be found in every nook and cranny of the football world, from the almighty bastions of the NFL down to the high school ranks. He defined a generation or three of offensive philosophy. No other coach can dare make such a claim. The genesis and subsequent evolution of the modern passing game can be drawn back to Coach Leach. Yes, there were influences like Joe Tiller’s “Basketball on Grass” but Leach was the one to perfect the art into a science.
There are many famous quirks as the iconoclastic effervescent and vivacious man navigated through his wonderful life. The Pirate led a journey of greatly voracious learning, able to speak on a lot of subjects, including marriage advice, Halloween candy, and playoff expansion, among many other anecdotes. First and foremost, he was one to show great humility and humanity to everyone in his orbit. He was your coach’s favorite coach. The everyman’s coach who endeared himself to vast swaths of America watching this beautiful game of pigskin.
He leaves behind his wife, Sharon, four children, and three grandchildren along with countless records plus a fleet full of players and coaches influenced by him. His immeasurable legacy and influence will continue through the world’s annals time immemorial. Everyone involved in this game will miss him greatly.
I leave you, dear reader, with these words, hug and love on your loved ones tighter as every day isn’t guaranteed. Please pray for the family of Mr. Leach and the current Mississippi State team as they go through this grief-stricken time. I can’t imagine how they will even practice for and play in their upcoming bowl game.
Keep Swinging Your Sword, Pirate Captain!