Former Washington State football coach Mike Leach, known to Cougar fans for his unique personality and unrivaled sustained success in Pullman, has died following complications from a heart condition suffered on Sunday, Mississippi State University has announced. He was 61.
Leach, who had been the head coach at MSU for the past three seasons after spending the previous eight at WSU, was transported by helicopter to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson early Sunday morning after a medical emergency at his home. He passed away surrounded by family on Monday night. As a final act of charity, his family members remarked he was able to participate in organ donation, according to MSU.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leach family in this devastating time.
Leach arrived in Pullman in 2012 and built one of the most successful runs in Washington State football. In his eight seasons, the Cougars won 55 games and made six bowl games, including five in a row from 2015 to Leach’s final season in 2019, giving him the third-most wins in school history. Leach was instrumental in establishing the successful Air Raid offense, which was as dynamic and fun to watch as he was. His Air Raid forever transformed modern offenses — both collegiate and professional — and his teachings and schemes can be seen across the football universe.
For WSU fans across the board, 2018 was a pinnacle season, in great part due to Leach recruiting Gardner Minshew. We celebrated Gameday, won the Alamo Bowl, and had arguably one of the most iconic Mike Leach Moments: Minshew putting a fake mustache on his coach.
Beyond Leach’s football success, he was a one-of-a-kind personality, always ready to share stories and personal thoughts on any given topic — ranging anywhere from wedding advice to his Halloween candy favorites, and of course who could forget his iconic mascot battle opinions? Leach brought great football to the school, and even greater humor; his book, Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and Life, is an incredible read, describing his time going from Wyoming to law school, and broaches the similarities between football and life.
We’ve linked some memorable Mike Leach moments below. Rest in peace coach.