Mike Leach, pioneering football coach, dies at 61

Mike Leach, the pioneering, no-holds-barred college football coach who helped revolutionize the passing game with the air attack, has died after complications from heart disease, Mississippi State said Tuesday. He was 61 years old.

Leach, who was in his third season as the head coach at Mississippi State, fell ill Sunday at his home in Starkville, Mississippi. He was treated at a local hospital before being airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, about 120 miles away.

Leach battled pneumonia late this season, coughing uncontrollably at times during press conferences, but appeared to be improving, according to those who worked with him.

The news that he fell seriously ill swept college football in recent days and left many who knew him speechless. waiting and praying for Leach’s recovery under dire circumstances.

His impact on college football over the past two decades is profound and will continue for years to come.

Leach was known for his crime sprees, his wide-ranging interests: He wrote a book about the Native American leader Geronimo, had a passion for pirates, taught a class on insurgent warfare, and rambled and awkward press conferences.

Leach’s teams were consistent winners in programs where success did not come easily. In 21 seasons as a head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, Leach was 158-107. And his quarterbacks put up massive passing stats, running a relatively simple offense called the Air Raid that he didn’t invent but certainly dominated.

Associated Press report.

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