MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — College football is taking a hard hit after the passing of Mississippi State Coach Mike Leach. Leach died late Monday night, following complications from a heart condition. He was 61.

The outgoing and widely-recognized personality had strong ties to the Gulf Coast. Before Coach Mike Leach began his 21-year head coaching career with 158 total wins, he earned his master’s degree at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne in 1998.

The President of the Sports Academy TJ Rosandish remembers him well.

“He was a student here on the campus,” said Rosandish. “In those days we were teaching on campus. And, one of the signature things when he was here, is he really loved Flora-Bama.
In fact, that left such an impression here he would come back here just to come back to the Floria-Bama.”

In the 1990’s he came across Barry Terranova, who now owns an auto auction in Mobile. Back then, he was the publisher of the America Football Monthly Magazine and is credited with helping Leach get his first head coaching gig at Texas Tech.

“I’ll never forget, the first question was how he is going to run this program,” said Terranova. “Mike said if your enemy is superior in strength invade him, if his forces are united divided him. Attack him where he’s unprepared, and appear where it’s unexpected.”

Leach had quite the personality.

“Whenever you talked to Mike you never knew what you were going to get,” said Rosandish.

“Mike was without question the most interesting, most intelligent, most articulate, most diverse, and most quirky coach that I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my 20+ years of working in the football profession,” said Terranova.

The pioneering coach helped revolutionize the college football passing game, and many can agree there will never be another Mike Leach.

“His success at Texas Tech, Washington State, and Mississippi State are well documented,” said Terranova. “Mike was both a very good friend and an unbelievable coach and touched and affected the lives of thousands of people. His coaching today is one that may never be rivaled in modern football.”

Leach leaves behind his wife, four children and three grandchildren.