Mike Leach, pioneering soccer coach, dies at 61

Published:Mar 9, 202408:29
Mike Leach, pioneering soccer coach, dies at 61

Mike Leach, the gruff, pioneering and unfiltered faculty soccer coach who helped revolutionize the passing sport with the Air Raid offense, has died following issues from a coronary heart situation, Mississippi State mentioned Tuesday. He was 61.

Leach, who was in his third season as head coach at Mississippi State, fell in poor health Sunday at his dwelling in Starkville, Mississippi. He was handled at an area hospital earlier than being airlifted to College of Mississippi Medical Middle in Jackson, about 120 miles away.

"Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was in a position to take part in organ donation at UMMC as a remaining act of charity," the household mentioned in a press release issued by Mississippi State. "We're supported and uplifted by the outpouring of affection and prayers from household, buddies, Mississippi State College, the hospital workers, and soccer followers all over the world. Thanks for sharing within the pleasure of our beloved husband and father’s life."

Leach fought by means of a bout with pneumonia late on this season, coughing uncontrollably at instances throughout information conferences, however gave the impression to be enhancing, in line with those that labored with him.

Information of him falling gravely in poor health swept by means of faculty soccer the previous few days and left many who knew him shocked, hoping and praying for Leach’s restoration beneath grim circumstances.

His affect on faculty soccer over the past 20 years runs deep and can proceed for years to come back.

Leach was recognized for his pass-happy offenses, wide-ranging pursuits — he wrote a guide about Native American chief Geronimo, had a ardour for pirates, a taught a category about rebel warfare — and rambling, off-the-cuff information conferences.

Leach’s groups have been constant winners at applications the place success didn't come simple. In 21 seasons as a head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, Leach went 158-107. And his quarterbacks put up huge passing statistics, working a comparatively easy offense referred to as the Air Raid that he didn't invent however definitely mastered.

An interview with Leach was as more likely to veer off into politics, marriage ceremony planning or hypothetical mascot fights because it was to stay to soccer. 

Mike Leach breaks down which Pac-12 mascot would win in a battle

Mike Leach breaks down which Pac-12 mascot would win in a fight

He traveled everywhere in the world and his curiosity knew no bounds. He most appreciated those that stepped outdoors of their experience.

"One of many largest issues I like about Michael Jordan, he obtained condemned loads for enjoying baseball. I fully admired that," Leach instructed The Related Press final spring. "I imply, you’re gonna be lifeless in 100 years anyway. You’ve mastered basketball and also you’re gonna go attempt to grasp one thing else, and stick your neck out and also you’re not afraid to do it, and know that lots of people are gonna be watching you whilst you do it. I assumed it was superior."

As a lot as Leach loved digging into matters aside from soccer, he was glorious on the Xs and Os.

Six of the 20 greatest passing seasons in main faculty soccer historical past have been by quarterbacks who performed for Leach, together with 4 of the highest six.

Calling performs from a folded piece of paper smaller than an index card, Leach turned passers akin to B.J. Symons (448.7 yards per sport), Graham Harrell (438.8), Connor Halliday (430.3) and Anthony Gordon (429.2) into record-setters and Heisman Trophy contenders.

"You must make decisions and restrict what you’re going to show and what you’re going to do. That’s the laborious half," Leach instructed the AP in regards to the Air Raid’s economical playbook.

Leach additionally had a penchant for butting heads with authority, and he wasn’t shy about criticizing gamers he felt weren't enjoying with sufficient toughness.

A convergence of these traits price Leach his first head teaching job. He went 84-43 with the Purple Raiders, by no means having a dropping season on the Huge 12 faculty and reaching No. 2 within the nation in 2008 with a workforce that went 11-2 and matched a college report for victories.

However he was fired by Texas Tech in December 2009 after being accused of mistreating a participant, Adam James — the son of former ESPN announcer and NFL participant Craig James — who had suffered a concussion.

He clashed together with his bosses as an alternative of apologizing for the battle, and ultimately sued Texas Tech for wrongful termination. The college was protected by state regulation, however Leach by no means stopped attempting to battle that case. He additionally filed a lawsuit towards ESPN and Craig James that was later dismissed.

Leach was out of teaching for 2 seasons. He and his spouse, Sharon, purchased a house in Key West, Florida, the place he frolicked driving his bike round city and knocking again drinks on the native bars.

He returned to teaching however by no means gave up that beloved dwelling within the Keys.

Leach landed within the Pac-12 at Washington State in 2012. After three dropping seasons, the Cougars quickly regarded very very similar to his Texas Tech groups. In 2018, Washington State went 11-2, setting a college report for victories, and was ranked as excessive as No. 7 within the nation.

Leach moved to the Southeastern Convention in 2020, taking up at Mississippi State.

After years of questions on whether or not Leach’s unfold offense could possibly be profitable within the nation’s most proficient soccer convention, the Bulldogs set an SEC report for yards passing in his very first sport towards defending nationwide champion LSU.

Born March 9, 1961, in tiny Susanville, California, Leach grew up in even smaller Cody, Wyoming. Raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attended BYU and later obtained a regulation diploma from Pepperdine.

"It was laborious for me once I was in faculty, narrowing down what to review," Leach instructed the AP.

Leach didn’t play faculty soccer, however watching the revolutionary passing assault utilized by then-Cougars coach LaVell Edwards at a time when most groups have been nonetheless run-heavy piqued his curiosity in drawing up performs.

In 1987, he broke into faculty teaching at Cal Poly, but it surely was at Iowa Wesleyan the place he discovered his muse. Head coach Hal Mumme had invented the Air Raid whereas teaching highschool in Texas. At Iowa Wesleyan, with Leach as offensive coordinator, it started to take maintain and basically change the way in which soccer was performed.

Leach adopted Mumme to Valdosta State after which to the SEC at Kentucky, smashing passing data alongside the way in which. He spent one season as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator in 1999 earlier than getting his personal program at Texas Tech.

From there, the Air Raid unfold like wild and have become the predominant approach offense was run within the Huge 12.

Leach’s in depth teaching tree consists of USC’s Lincoln Riley, TCU’s Sonny Dykes, Houston’s Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals.

This previous season, Leach’s Mississippi State workforce completed 8-4, together with a 24-22 victory Thanksgiving night time over Mississippi within the intense rivalry often known as the Egg Bowl. It was his remaining sport.

Leach is survived by his spouse and 4 kids, Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.

Reporting from the Related Press.

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Publish date: 2022-12-13 20:31:09
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