Mississippi State Players Say They Plan to Play in ReliaQuest Bowl Against Illinois After Head Coach Mike Leach’s Death

Mississippi State football is still reeling after the tragic, and untimely sudden death

“The players are 100 percent behind playing this bowl game and doing what coach Leach would expect them to do,” Mississippi State interim athletic director Bracky Brett told ESPN’s Chris Low.

Mississippi State announced Tuesday that Leach died Monday night “following complications from a heart condition.”

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the passing of Mike Leach,” Brett said. “College football lost one of its most beloved figures, but his legacy will last forever. 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. 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.”

Nicknamed “The Pirate,” Leach went 158-107 overall across 21 seasons leading Texas Tech (2000-09), Washington State (2012-19) and Mississippi State (2020-22). With the Bulldogs, Leach went 19-17 (11-15 in SEC play), including three straight bowl games — one Armed Forces win (2020) and a subsequent loss in the Liberty (2021).

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

Leach produced his best season yet in 2022, going 8-4 and 4-4 in league play.

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“I remember first competing against Mike in an Alamo Bowl in the early 2000s,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema posted on Twitter. “Since then we have built a long friendship. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and his family.”

All of us at The DC Patriot send our prayers to the family, players, and staff of Mike Leach.

Thanks to our friends at 247sports.com for contributing to this article.

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