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Penn State HC James Franklin Comments on Mississippi State HC Mike Leach’s Passing

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 12: Mississippi State Bulldogs Head Coach Mike Leach talks to Georgia Bulldogs Quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) after the college football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Mississippi State Bulldogs on November 12, 2022, at Davis-Wade Stadium in Starkville, MS. (Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire)

Penn State coach James Franklin  released a statement on the passing of Mississippi State coach Mike Leach via Twitter Tuesday.

Leach died Monday night of complications from a heart condition, and Mississippi State announced his passing Tuesday morning.

He was 61 years old.

Franklin was one of many who expressed their sorrow for the late coach.

”Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leach family, friends and the entire Mississippi State football organization,” Franklin tweeted. “I always had a ton of respect for Mike and his coaching career. The impact he made on college football was deep and felt by many.”

Franklin never coached against Leach in the 12 seasons their head coaching careers overlapped, never going against him at Vanderbilt or Penn State while Leach was at Washington State (2012-19) or Mississippi State (2020-22).

But he and other colleagues, such as Alabama coach Nick Saban, recognized the impact Leach’s career had on the game.

A big part of Leach’s coaching legacy will be for his role in innovating the “Air Raid” offense. Hal Mumme is credited with first installing the offense at a Texas high school in the 1980s, but Leach no doubt had a big impact in popularizing the scheme which many schools use today. Leach worked under Mumme at Kentucky as the school’s offensive coordinator in the 1997 and ‘98 seasons. Led by future No. 1 overall draft pick Tim Couch, Kentucky scored a lot of points those years and Leach got the job as Oklahoma’s OC under head coach Bob Stoops for the 1999 season.

With the Air Raid, the Sooners put up nearly 36 points per game in Leach’s lone year. He became Texas Tech’s head coach after one season in Norman, and stayed in Lubbock for 10 campaigns, compiling an 84-43 record highlighted by an 11-2 season and Cotton Bowl berth in 2008.

After Leach’s controversial dismissal from Tech following the 2009 season, he was out of coaching for two seasons before getting the Washington State job prior to the 2012 campaign. Washington State went 3-9 in Leach’s first season in Pullman, but the Cougars got better under Leach and he left the school after the 2019 season with a 55-47 record and two bowl game wins. From there, Leach went to Mississippi State and went 19-17 over three seasons before his death. The last game he coached was a 24-22 upset win at rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

Franklin ended his statement writing that Leach “will be greatly missed.”

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