Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach dead at 61 following heart attack

Legendary college football coach Mike Leach was hospitalized over the weekend in “critical condition” following a suspected heart attack over the weekend.

It has now been confirmed by Mississippi State University that Coach Leach passed away Monday night at the age of 61 due to “complications related to a heart condition,” ESPN reported.

His death is a devastating shock to his family, his personal friends and colleagues, his current and former players and assistants, and the fans who followed him and his revolutionary “Air Raid” pass-heavy style of offense that changed the way college football is played.

Heart attack led to hospitalization

The Daily Wire had reported on Monday that Coach Leach had suffered a “massive heart attack” while at home on Sunday that resulted in his being airlifted from the Starkville area to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson after first being “stabilized” at a local hospital in “dire condition.”

MSU said in an update on Monday morning that Leach was in “critical condition” at UMMC and that “Mike’s family is with him and appreciates the overwhelming expressions of love and support for the coach, but also requests that their family’s privacy be respected at this time.”

The school also vowed to share any additional information about the coach’s health and condition “when it becomes available.”

Loss of “beloved husband and father” mourned

Unfortunately for Leach, his family, and those who loved and respected him, the coach ultimately did not pull through and finally succumbed on Monday night, according to a Tuesday press release from MSU.

“Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity,” the Leach family said in a statement.

“We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff and football fans around the world. Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life,” they added.

The California-born Leach, who was the oldest of six siblings, is directly survived by his wife, Sharon, and their four children — Janeen, Kimberly, Cody, and Kiersten.

Remembering a great coach who was an even better person outside of football

According to ESPN, Coach Leach accumulated a 158-107 record over 21 seasons as an NCAA head coach with three teams — the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Washington State Cougars, and the Mississippi State Bulldogs — which had him ranked fifth among all active coaches on the all-time wins list.

“Coach Mike Leach cast a tremendous shadow not just over Mississippi State University, but over the entire college football landscape,” MSU President Mark Keenum said in a statement. “His innovative ‘Air Raid’ offense changed the game. Mike’s keen intellect and unvarnished candor made him one of the nation’s true coaching legends. His passing brings great sadness to our university, to the Southeastern Conference, and to all who loved college football. I will miss Mike’s profound curiosity, his honesty, and his wide-open approach to pursuing excellence in all things.”

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach. College football lost one of its most beloved figures today, but his legacy will last forever,” said MSU Interim Athletic Director Bracky Brett. “Mike’s energetic personality, influential presence and extraordinary leadership touched millions of athletes, students, coaches, fans, family and friends for decades.”

“Mike was an innovator, pioneer and visionary. He was a college football icon, a coaching legend but an even better person,” Brett added. “We are all better for having known Mike Leach. The thoughts and prayers of Mississippi State University and the entire Bulldog family are with his wife Sharon, his children and the entire Leach family.”

According to ESPN, MSU’s Keenum and Brett had already named defensive coordinator Zach Arnett as Leach’s temporary replacement when he was first hospitalized, and it will be Arnett who will lead the Bulldogs to play in Leach’s honor against Illinois in the Jan. 2 ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida.

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