Mike Leach, unique sports personality, dies at 61

Mike Leach, the head football coach at Mississippi State died today at the age of 61. Leach’s passing has sent ripples throughout the college football world.

It’s obviously always sad when a person passes away. But I’ve tried to reflect today on what it was that made Leach so beloved among football fans. I think it was Leach’s authenticity. In some ways, Leach reminds me of the comedian Norm MacDonald (who also passed away this year).

Both MacDonald and Leach were famous for not caring to speak their minds. In a society that can be so performative, I think that there’s something refreshing about people who are comfortable in their own skin and who are authentic and genuine.

Leach was an innovative football mind. He was successful as head coach of three different schools: Texas Tech, Washington State, and Mississippi State. That in itself is noteworthy because those are three programs who do not have long histories of winning. But Leach was also legendary for his comments to media.

Leach was a highly-intelligent Renaissance man who could comment thoughtfully (and humorously) on a range of subjects. Before becoming a football coach, Leach had gone to law school and earned his Juris Doctor. He’d later add a second masters degree in sports science. He enjoyed reading up on subjects such as pirate, vikings, grizzly bears, and Daniel Boone.

For me, the life lesson I’m trying to remember today is to look to his example as far as being a real and authentic person. It’s a rarity today, but something to be appreciated.

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