STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – Friends and colleagues gathered in Starkville to celebrate the life of Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach.

The head football coach of the Bulldogs passed away on December 12 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, following complications from a heart condition. He was 61.

Mississippi State University (MSU) held a public ceremony and shared stories about Leach. He coached for more than two decades, racking up 158 wins throughout his career.

USC head football coach Lincoln Riley served as a wide receiver’s coach under Leach while at Texas Tech. He believes Leach’s legacy will be larger than football.

“His legacy will go far beyond his offensive creativity the winds, the crazy press conferences, all the great sayings, all the great stories. He truly did invest in other people, and it’s a great reminder for us all that if you’ll take a little bit of your time and invested in other people and get to know them and look to help them, it’s amazing how you can change one person’s life. He certainly did that for me, and I’m forever grateful,” said Riley.

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers shared his favorite memory of Leach during a come from behind win at Auburn in 2021.

“Coach and I were talking, and he asked me what I like, and I told him a play, and he kind of said he liked the different play that I liked. And, you know, coach and I were kind of going back and forth at it or whatever, and the officials were blowing blowing the whistle to get out of the huddle or whatever, and coach finally just looked at me, and he said, ‘All right, we’ll call something that’ll score.’ So, yeah, that was coach. You know, I don’t care what you call it, just call something. It’ll score,” said Rogers.

Leach, who was named MSU’s 34th head football coach in 2020, was finishing his third season in Starkville and 21st as a head coach when he died. He is survived by his wife Sharon and four children: Janeen, Kimberly, Cody and Kiersten.