Yesterday, a memorial service was held for Mississippi State head coach and frequent CYInterview guest Mike Leach [see here] in Starkville, Mississippi at the Humphrey Coliseum.
Here are highlights from some of the speakers at the service.
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum said Mike Leach could have accomplished anything professionally:
“I believe he could have been anything that he wanted to be and he would have been successful at it.”
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on Coach’s emphasis on academics:
“I also watched him talk with intent about the value of education and the importance of graduating people who were part of a college football team.”
Former Kentucky head Coach Hal Mumme recalled a story on how Leach and pirates became a thing when they were both coaches at Iowa Wesleyan. At the time, Mike was an assistant coach to Coach Mumme. Hal was considering pursuing the head coaching position at the The Citadel. At the funeral, the coach recalled the story of Mike Leach’s beginning’s with pirates:
“He [Mike Leach] looks at me in this dead pan way that only he could do and he just says, ‘I don’t want to play soldier.’ I say, ‘What do you mean?’ He goes, ‘Well, schools like that, they just you know, they play football, they go to school, but they dress up in uniforms, they play soldier all the time.’ He said, ‘If I’m gonna play something, I’d rather play pirate.’ And that’s where the idea was born, right there.”
Former head coach Bob Stoops brought Mike Leach to Oklahoma to be the Sooners offensive coordinator in 1999. Here is what he said about his death:
“There’s a ball game going on right now in heaven. And can’t you just see Mike, it’s 4th and 2, he’s on his own 40, you know he’s going for it. He’s got his pen in his mouth, folded up piece of paper, signaling with his hand early 92 post wheel. Rest in peace Mike.”
Agent Gary O’Hagan represented both Mike Leach and the Wizard of Westwood, legendary basketball coach John Wooden of the UCLA Bruins. He recalled a meeting he was at between the two coaches and some of the important takeaways from their time together:
“We had the Wizard of Westwood meeting the pirate. And I would say four things, I looked at my notes the other day of that meeting, one was, the only good pass is a pass that can be caught. And that includes conversations and communications. Number two, perfection was impossible, but the pursuit of perfection was not impossible. The next one was that, when you’re looking for people to make up your team, make sure they’re eager and not just willing. The eager was the important factor in developing the all-important imperative, loyalty. So, it turned out to be a good meeting and from that point on John Wooden was a big fan of Mike Leach’s.”
A replay of the funeral can be seen on Watch ESPN by clicking here.
Coach Mike Leach died last week at the age of 61. He will be missed by many.