On Tuesday morning, we were hit with the heartbreaking news that college football coaching legend Mike Leach had passed away at 61, due to complications from a massive heart attack he suffered on Sunday night.
It was rumored that Leach had already been transferred to comfort care, and the odds weren’t looking good.
Leach is widely known as the father of the “air raid” offense on the college football landscape, innovating the game into what it is today.
He was also known for his hilarious personality, and was always a media favorite for post game interviews and press conferences, and he was always a guy who did things his own way, regardless of what others thought of him.
Needless to say, it’s one of the most heartbreaking losses the college football world has seen in a while, and coach Leach will be missed greatly.
After it was announced that Leach was in the hospital, suffering from an “undisclosed medical issue” at the time, Mississippi State named defensive coordinator Zach Arnett as the interim head coach for the time being.
Now, with that being said, on a short time frame the school went ahead and hired Arnett as the next official head coach at Mississippi State.
If you aren’t familiar with Arnett, he’s the guy who Mike Leach hired while having a phone conversation with him in a hole in a wall local bar in Southaven, Mississippi, called the Fox & Hound.
Brad Peterson, Leach’s former high school relations director at MSU, recalled to Sports Illustrated:
“He was sitting over there in the corner and got on the phone with Arnett trying to get him as the coordinator. Me and (assistant) Mason Miller shot pool and threw darts waiting on him to get off the phone!”
Arnett was a standout linebacker at New Mexico in his playing days, and has spent most of his career coaching for San Diego State, from 2011-2013, where he eventually worked his way to defensive coordinator.
Arnett was hired on by Leach to be the next defensive coordinator in 2020.
The 33-year-old is now the youngest head coach in the SEC.
Peterson also had high praise for the job Arnett has done in Starkville so far:
“He’s really good. The kids really like him. Hard-nosed. He’s got so much common sense. He’s a humble guy. He’s what you are looking for. He’ll do a great job.
He understands Mississippi State recruiting. You get guys in here not from the South and the SEC and they don’t understand Mississippi recruiting. He does.”
Arnett will head coach his first ever game when Mississippi State squares off against Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa, Florida.