WSU’s head football coach Mike Leach leaving
Famed Washington State University head coach Mike Leach
has accepted the head coaching job at Mississippi State,
officials confirmed Thursday.
Leach will replace Joe Moorhead, who was let go from
the football coaching job in Mississippi
after racking up a record of 14-12 in two seasons with the Bulldogs.
Moorhead’s post-bowl game firing was unusual, but the Bulldogs landed a coach with a long track record of winning at programs that have historically struggled.
In 18 years was Texas Tech and Washington State, Leach is 139-90, using his Air Raid offense to set records and consistently reach the postseason.
At Washington State, Leach took over a program that had been mired in the Pac-12 basement and went to five straight bowl games, including an 11-2 season in 2018.
He finished 55-47 in eight seasons with the Cougars. He produced a similar turnaround at Texas Tech, taking the Red Raiders to bowl games in all 10 seasons.
His style is anything but typical. Leach gets a lot of attention for his news conferences, where he has doled out wedding advice and pondered which Pac-12 mascots would survive a fight.
It has not all been fun and games, though.
Leach was fired by Texas Tech after being accused of mistreating a player with a concussion and then butting heads with his bosses. When his teams have struggled, Leach has not been shy about calling players soft and making other disparaging remarks.
But on the field, his teams win more than they lose and his quarterbacks typically throw for more yards than just about any in the country.
In January 2019, Leach and the university agreed to a one-year contract extension that runs though the 2023 season.
Under the terms of that deal, Leach was expected to be paid $3.75 million in 2019, and $4 million per year the following four years.
Leach was also expected to receive a one-time retention bonus of $750,000 following the 2020 season.
Leach guided Washington State to an 11-2 record last season, the most wins in program history.
He is the only WSU coach to lead the Cougars to four straight bowl games.
Jack Thompson was a quarterback at WSU from 1975 to 1978 and said he was surprised to a degree about Leach’s decision.
“I’m grateful for all that coach Leach has done for Washington State University…I think he has brought our program back to relevance…I’m eager to see who that next coach is to take us to the next level,” Thompson said.