Mike Leach’s time at Washington State has come to an end after eight years, 55 wins, six bowl appearances and a multitude of record-passing Pac-12 Conference records.
The Spokesman-Review confirmed a report from Yahoo! Sports ‘ Pete Thamel that Leach accepted the Mississippi State head coaching position one day after it was reported from his vacation home in Key West, Florida, the WSU coach interviewed with the Bulldogs.
After Thursday’s report, WSU President Kirk Schultz and Athletic Director Pat Chun made a joint statement.
“On behalf of Washington State, we would like to thank Coach Leach for his eight years of service to the Cougars,” the statement read. “Mike has transformed Washington State Football into a national brand and we will be forever grateful. We wish he and Sharon nothing but the best in their next chapter at Mississippi State. Now we look forward to elevating the Cougs to the highest levels of college football.”
When the Bulldogs fired coach Joe Moorhead on the heels of a 6-7 season that saw the Bulldogs lose 38-38 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl, Leach was immediately thought to be a contender for the Starkville job. Former coach from Washington and current offensive coordinator from Alabama, Steve Sarkisian, was also seen by some as a front-runner for the position.
Source: Mike Leach will be the next head coach at Mississippi State.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 9, 2020
— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) January 9, 2020
In his eight seasons in Pullman, Leach took the Cougars to five straight bowl games and went 55-47. He’s 139-90 as a head coach for college football, having also coached at Texas Tech for 10 seasons. Under Leach, in Apple Cups, the Cougars were 1-7 and in bowl games 2-3.
Also among the most successful in college football was his Air Raid offense. In 2019, the Cougars averaged almost 500 yards per game, ranking seventh best in FBS. Also ranked in the top 10 in total yards under Leach were four different quarterbacks — Luke Falk, Anthony Gordon, Gardner Minshew and Connor Halliday.
— John Cohen (@JohnCohenAD) January 9, 2020
Shortly after Leach’s departure reports surfaced, Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen tweeted a “Caribbean Pirates” video mashed with a clip of a waving Mississippi State flag, referring to Leach’s pirate affinity and tying it to Leach’s new employer.
Leach also updated his bio and image on Twitter less than an hour after the hire had surfaced. It reads: “Husband; father; Mississippi State University’s head football coach; NY Time Best Seller’s author, Swing You Sword; #HailState.”
That was fast. pic.twitter.com/2Gp259sf5k
— Sean Quinton (@Quinton_Sean) January 9, 2020
Radio host Paul Finebaum announced on Tuesday that Cohen had traveled for the job to meet Leach in Key West, Florida.
On the heels of a 6-7 season that saw the Bulldogs lose 38-28 to Louisville in the Music City Bowl, Mississippi State fired coach Joe Moorhead. Moorhead, who took up the job at MSU when Dan Mullen was hired by Florida at the end of the 2017 season, went 14-12 in Starkville during his two seasons.
Leach and the Cougars agreed to an extension of the contract in December to keep the coach in Pullman until 2024.