After leading an exemplary life on and off the football field, Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach died Monday night at the age of 61 following complications from an undisclosed heart condition.
A unicorn in the football world, Leach’s head coaching career spanned an impressive 21 seasons, which, in addition to Mississippi State, included nine seasons at Texas Tech and seven years at Washington State. With a lifetime record of 158-107, the man who perfected air raid-style offenses has been recognized time and again for his outstanding coaching. In 2018, for instance, Leach was among five head coaches to be named as “National Coach of the Year” by the American Football Coaches Association.
And while Leach’s coaching abilities will always remain a core aspect of his legacy, so too will his eccentric persona. Never one to shy away from an off-topic question, Leach is famous for his peculiar responses to random inquiries from sports journalists. Utilizing a little wit and humor, he kept us laughing every time he stepped up to the microphone.
In honor of Coach Leach, let’s remember some of his best moments that never fail to put smiles on the faces of many.
Fat Little Girlfriends
Over the course of his 21-year head coaching career, Leach’s “fat little girlfriends” phrase is probably his most notable. Coined after Texas Tech’s loss to Texas A&M in 2009, Leach did not hold back criticism of his players, whose “fat little girlfriends [were] telling them what they want[ed] to hear, which is ‘how great you are’ and ‘how easy [it’s] going to be’” to play college ball.
Fellas, if you’re looking for someone to give you some solid wedding advice, Leach is your guy. During his time at Washington State, Leach gave a perfect breakdown of what men should expect ahead of the big day, which includes navigating a minefield of female wedding planning that any groom would be lucky to make it out of alive.
Wearing a Face Mask
If there were an award for handling dumb questions from lib-journos, Leach would be its annual recipient. When pressed by a New York Times reporter on why he wasn’t wearing a face mask throughout most of Mississippi State’s 2020 upset victory over defending national champion LSU, Leach launched into a hilarious diatribe that largely didn’t address the question. Not to be outdone, Leach even turned the question back around on the reporter, asking him if he was “a pretty good face mask guy.”
Mascot Battle Royale
In addition to his talents as a head coach, Leach is also a battle royale enthusiast. During his time at Washington State, Leach gave a breakdown of every mascot in the Pac-12, providing a thorough analysis of each competitor to determine who’d come out on top in the event of a conference-wide brawl.
If there was anything Mike Leach hated more than losing a game, it was candy corn. During a 2017 event at Washington State, Leach did not hold back his utter disdain for the Halloween candy, comparing it to other “awful” seasonal sweets like fruitcake.
Duping the Texas Longhorns
Prior to becoming Texas Tech’s head coach, Leach was briefly the offensive coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners during the 1999 season. Despite his short tenure at the school, Leach left a lasting legacy, which included a prank only he could come up with.
Ahead of Oklahoma’s “Red River Showdown” against Texas, Leach “accidentally” left a script of his team’s offensive plays on the field, which was soon scooped up by the Longhorns’ staff and given to defensive coordinator Carl Reese. While the Longhorns thought a miracle had just been handed to them, there was one small problem: The script was a decoy planted by Leach.
After going down 17-0 at the game’s outset, Texas realized they had been duped. While the Longhorns ended up ditching the script and going on to win 38-28, Leach’s scheme cemented itself as one of the most comedic football shenanigans to date.
“That does sound like Mike,” said former Texas coach Mack Brown. “Offensive coordinators are so careful with those scripts they wouldn’t be losing them. … Only Mike would think to lay one out there as a decoy.”