Prominent athletes, coaches, commentators, and others posted touching tributes on Tuesday to beloved Mississippi State college football coach Mike Leach following news of his death. He was 61.
Leach sustained a heart attack at his home in Starkville on Sunday. He was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where he died.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was just one of the hundreds who reacted on social media.
“Prayers to the Leach family!” the former Super Bowl MVP tweeted with praying hand emojis. ” True legend of the game!”
Prayers to the Leach family!🙏🏽🙏🏽 True legend of the game!
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) December 13, 2022
“There is no way I would be where I am today if not for Mike Leach and everything he taught me about the game,” Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who played under Leach at Texas Tech, shared in a statement.
Statement from Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury on the passing of Mike Leach, who was the head coach at Texas Tech during Kingsbury’s record-setting career as a QB there: pic.twitter.com/yleLkRHIOK
— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) December 13, 2022
“Truly one of the most innovative offensive minds in football, he was more than a coach,” he added. “He was a mentor, a friend and one of the most special people I’ve ever met. My heart goes out to Sharon, the Leach family and everyone who had the privilege of knowing and loving him. Our sport was better because of Mike Leach and is far less interesting without him.”
“Heartbroken. Prayers for the entire Leach family and [HailStateFB],” Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Josh Heupel tweeted, along with a statement calling Leach “one of a kind.”
— Josh Heupel (@coachjoshheupel) December 13, 2022
“He saw something in me that no one else did,” the statement read. “Like so many across our sport, I am grateful for Coach Leach’s impact on my life both personally and professionally. His offensive philosophy and vision were ahead of his time, and they continue to shape the game today.”
“Off the field, he was one of a kind – an incredible storyteller, a man full of wisdom and someone who always cared about his former players and coaches,” he added. “I enjoyed our friendship over the years.”
“[Mike Leach was] the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. … He’s one of the truly irreplaceable figures in the history of the game,” ESPN commentator Paul Finebaum shared. “Records are one thing … but the legacy that one leaves behind is what I heard from his many friends and coaching colleagues.”
“[Mike Leach was] the smartest coach I’ve ever been around. … He’s one of the truly irreplaceable figures in the history of the game. Records are one thing … but the legacy that one leaves behind is what I heard from his many friends and coaching colleagues.”
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) December 13, 2022
And they weren’t the only ones shocked and saddened to learn of the coach’s death.
Got to have a few beers with Mike Leach one evening several years ago and have wanted to spend more time with him ever since. Such a cool cool dude. RIP coach.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) December 13, 2022
Mike Leach had a law degree & never played or coached college football. But, in 1987, he got a shot to coach the offensive line at San Luis Obispo for $3,000.
“I knew that I would start from behind. But I did think I had the ability to learn.”
He became one of the best coaches. pic.twitter.com/PmoyBSos5V
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 13, 2022
The world and college football are a better place because of Mike Leach. We lost a legend and I’m going to miss my friend very much. I cannot believe this has happened. Devastating. I will cherish the many talks and laughs. He will be dearly missed. God Bless Mike’s family 🙏🙏🙏
— Sean Salisbury (@SeanUnfiltered) December 13, 2022
Mississippi State just announced Mike Leach has died at 61 years old. Sad day for college football fans everywhere. Some stories here about what a great guy he was. Prayers for his family. pic.twitter.com/En4NcVSSJV
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 13, 2022
I never played under coach Mike Leach but I respected his philosophy towards the game growing up… RIP COACH you was apart of the birth of how the game is played today 🙏🏿
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 13, 2022
For those who love college football, it’s quirkiness, unique offenses, youthful spirit are a significant part of that. Mike leach embodied so many things that make the sport fun. Even better — he shared them w so many people. He let us in. #RIPCoachLeach
— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) December 13, 2022
Literally lost for words. @Coach_Leach gave me an opportunity to come back to my alma mater to coach and I’ll forever be grateful for that. Always showed me so much love and respect since the first day we met. I’ll miss you coach and thank you for everything 💔🕊️ #HailState pic.twitter.com/q60x8w8HPH
— Taveze Calhoun (@Calhoun__23) December 13, 2022
So incredibly sad. Mike Leach was the best. Just a unique, awesome person. https://t.co/3ekgicv3SG
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 13, 2022
There will never be another one quite like Mike Leach.
A true college football original. pic.twitter.com/ZnpJwMXT2q
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 13, 2022