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Source: Mike Leach leaving Washington State for Mississippi State

Pete Thamel

Washington State coach Mike Leach will be the next coach at Mississippi State, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

Leach has established himself as an elite coach at outlier jobs in big conferences, bringing high degrees of success at both Texas Tech and Washington State. Leach is one of the best-known offensive minds in college football, as his Air Raid-style system has become pervasive in the sport and also spread to the NFL.

It’s a compelling hire at Mississippi State, which fired coach Joe Moorhead after just two seasons in the wake of an embarrassing bowl and off-field issues. It immediately gives Mississippi State an identity and national intrigue, which the school developed during Dan Mullen’s tenure there but has mostly lacked for generations.

Dec 27, 2019; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Mike Leach reacts against the Air Force Falcons during the first half of the Cheez-It Bowl at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Leach is heading to Mississippi State. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Leach is 139-90 in his years as a head coach. He went 84-43 at Texas Tech, bringing historic success there with quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree. He’s gone 55-47 at Washington State. Leach’s teams are annually among the nation’s leaders in passing yards and total offense.

Along the way, an identity of dynamic quarterback play, a relentlessly reliable offense and distinct personality quirks have emerged. Leach is one of the most engaging and polarizing characters in the game, as he speaks his mind freely about everything from his controversial dismissal at Texas Tech to politics to mascot battles.

Leach does have experience in the SEC. He served as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 1997 and 1998.

The hiring brings an intriguing rivalry with new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who was hired in the offseason.

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