Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach Has Passed Away At Age 61 | The Offensive Guru And Deion Sanders’ Friendship Goes Back Years

Coach Mike Leach, friend of Deion Sanders in critical condition
(@Coach_Leach)

Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach has reportedly passed away at UMMC in Jackson, which is about 125 miles from the Starkville campus. Late Sunday night the school announced Leach had been hospitalized with a “personal health issue” and was in critical condition.

What Happened To Mike Leach?

According to a report released by the Clarion-Ledger, the 61-year-old offensive genius suffered a massive heart attack.

As reports rang out on Monday, 247Sports writer Steve Robertson tweeted an update about Leach That morning. 

As far as Coach’s condition goes, I am told he is stable. That is not to say he’s doing well. He’s not. The family will have to make some difficult decisions in the days ahead and that could actually come to a head on Monday. I simply don’t know their feelings. My heart breaks for all involved. I do know that they need all of us. We must come together as a family in this difficult time. As concerned as we are about football, their entire lives are changing. We must be sensitive to that and support them all we can.”

By 9:30 pm that night, Sportswriter Robbie Faulk tweeted this disheartening news. 

Deion Sanders Tweeted About His Good Friend 


For a guy like Leach to die so abruptly and in that manner is heartbreaking. Coach Prime sent out a tweet saying he was praying heavily for his good friend. At a time like this, that’s all anyone can do.

Leach led his teams to bowl games in 19 of 21 season, influenced the culture of passing attacks and won over 150 games as one of the most eccentric and successful coaches in college football.

Deion And Leach Relationship Forged When Deion Was An Analyst

Prior to coming to Jackson State in 2020, Sanders and Leach were friends. That began when Sanders was an analyst on the NFL Network. Although he worked on an NFL show, Sanders always kept his eye on the college game, and he would always rave about the work Leach was doing at Washington State with limited resources compared to other Pac-12 programs.

With Leach about 125 miles from Jackson, in Starkville it was nothing for the two head coaches to get together to chop it up about football, life and other things. In fact, the two met up pretty frequently, and it was Leach who recommended that Sanders hire his current Jackson State offensive coordinator Brett Bartolone. Coming from the “Air Raid” system and having played for Leach at Wazzu, Bartolone incorporated the “Air Raid of the South” at JSU. 

It led to JSU being 12-0 and Shedeur Sanders passing for nearly 3,400 yards, 36 touchdowns, just six interceptions, and being named SWAC Offensive Player of the Year.

Mike Leach Raved About Deion Sanders 

Just last month Leach raved about what Sanders was doing at JSU. During a November SEC Coaches teleconference leading up to the Bulldogs senior day, Leach was asked a variety of things. Known for his quirky and quick-witted responses, when asked about the job Deion was doing about 90 miles down the road, Leach said: 

“I think Deion’s a great coach. He’s been successful at so many things. Truly a renaissance guy. The math alone on how long he played baseball is truly amazing.”

CFB Coaching Fraternity Sends Wishes For A Speedy Recovery

An outpouring of prayers and well wishes for Leach came from all across the college football spectrum, with legends such as Alabama’s Nick Saban, tweeting.

LSU’s Brian Kelly also chimed in with a tweet. 

Everyone seemed to be preparing for the inevitable and now college football loses one of its true characters of the game, a mentor and offensive guru.