The coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs passed away last week from a heart attack, and since then social media has been flooded with incredible memories and stories from the larger-than-life personality.
He had an incredible sense of humor, like his advice that he gave to a sideline reporter who told him she was getting married:
“Go elope. Trust me on that.”
And it sounds like the coach, known for his eccentric personality and love of pirates, never met a stranger he wouldn’t talk to.
Hell, current USC head coach Lincoln Riley once shared a story about Leach spending 90 minutes on the phone with somebody who accidentally dialed the wrong number:
“He picked it up and said, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ And then he listened for a second and asked, ‘Where ya calling from?’
He kept talking on the phone and I eventually sort of tuned out. Now, a short phone conversation for Coach Leach is an hour.
So he was talking about this and that, and I was kind of hunkered down working on my own stuff. At some point, the call got dropped. They must have lost reception. Coach said, “Can you hear me? Are you there?”
Then he closed his old-school flip phone, swung it back open and redialed. He said, ‘Hey, sorry I lost you.’ And then they resumed their conversation for another 30 minutes or so before Coach finally hung up.
After he was done, we started talking and I said, ‘Hey Coach, who was that on the phone?’
And he said, ‘Oh, they had the wrong number.’”
Well Rick Karle, a morning news anchor at WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama has been collecting and sharing memories of the coach from people all across the country.
And this one might just be my favorite.
The story was shared with Karle by Zach Holtzman, a 2002 Texas Tech grad, who was in Lubbock at the time Leach was coaching the Red Raiders. As Holtzman recalls, he was out at dinner one night with his girlfriend when they saw Coach Leach in the restaurant.
His girlfriend approached Leach to ask for an autograph, asking the coach if anybody had ever told him that he looks like country star Vince Gill.
Well according to Holtzman:
“She came back to our table somewhat bummed with an autograph from Coach Leach that was signed, ‘Vince Gill’.”
Sure, it may be disappointing to not actually get Mike Leach’s autograph. But you got one hell of a story out of it, and chances are you now have a one-of-a-kind piece of Mike Leach memorabilia: