The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Hail State names Mike Leach new head football coach

13 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics
Photo: Photo/Michael Wyke

STARKVILLE - Mike Leach, a two-time national coach of the year, three-time conference coach of the year and the mastermind behind the NCAA record-setting "Air Raid" offense, has been tabbed as Mississippi State's 34th head football coach, Director of Athletics John Cohen announced Thursday.

"Mike Leach is a proven winner who has established a culture of excellence for nearly two decades as a head coach," Cohen said. "An offensive genius and two-time national coach of the year, he has a track record of building programs to national prominence with accountability and a blue-collar approach. We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to the Mississippi State family and look forward to watching our football program grow under his leadership."

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs," Leach said. "I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It's a privilege to be a part of the MSU family, and we look forward to getting down to Starkville shortly."

Leach will be formally introduced at a noon CT Friday press conference at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. It will be open to the public, and it will be carried live on SEC Network, SEC Network+ via the ESPN app, @HailStateFB Twitter and Facebook.

"I want to commend Athletics Director John Cohen and his staff for conducting a very thorough and true national search," MSU President Mark Keenum, said. "In Coach Mike Leach, that search produced a charismatic leader who has proven he can both win football games at a high level and motivate teams to play up to their potential. I'm excited about the future of our football program."

The accomplishments for Leach in his 18 years as a head coach are long and distinguished. He has compiled a 139-90 (.607) record, guided his squads to 16 bowl games, produced seven seasons of at least nine victories, captured two division titles, became the winningest coach in Texas Tech history and set school records for bowl appearances at both Texas Tech (10) and Washington State (6). During 10 of those 18 seasons, Leach's passing attack led the FBS - six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State.

Of the 50 most productive passing yardage seasons in FBS history, 11 came from quarterbacks coached by Leach since his hiring as head coach at Texas Tech beginning with the 2000 season. That includes three seasons by Graham Harrell (2006-08), two by Luke Falk (2015-16), one by Gardner Mishew II (2018) and one by Anthony Gordon (2019).

Leach, 58, arrives in Starkville after eight seasons at the helm at Washington State where he compiled a 55-47 (.539) record and was named the 2018 American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year and two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2015, 2018). Leach spearheaded WSU to a school-record six bowl appearances and became the first coach in school history to lead the Cougars to five consecutive bowl games. They also led the nation in passing offense in four out of his last six seasons in charge.