Mississippi State hires Leach as head coach Staff

January 09, 2020 at 8:26 pm.

Mississippi State hired coach Mike Leach away from Washington State on Thursday.

“The deal is done,” Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen tweeted, along with two photos of Leach apparently signing a contract. A press conference is scheduled for Friday at noon CT in Starkville, Miss.

“He has a track record of building programs to national prominence with accountability and a blue-collar approach,” Cohen said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome him and his family to the Mississippi State family and look forward to watching our football program grow under his leadership.”

Leach replaces Joe Moorhead, who was fired last week after going 14-12 with two bowl appearances in two seasons with the Bulldogs.

The 58-year-old Leach is 139-90 as a head coach. He compiled a 55-47 record with six bowl appearances in eight seasons with the Cougars from 2012-19, and was 84-43 with nine bowl trips in 10 seasons at Texas Tech from 2000-09.

He led Washington State to a 6-7 record in 2019, capped by a 31-21 loss to Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 27 in Phoenix. In early December, he had signed a contract extension through the 2024 season.

“On behalf of Washington State University, we would like to thank Coach Leach for his eight years of service to the Cougars,” Washington State president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun said in a joint statement. “Mike has transformed Washington State football into a national brand and we will be forever grateful.”

Known for his colorful quotes and prolific “Air Raid” passing attacks, Leach previously coached in the SEC as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Kentucky from 1997-98.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the head football coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs,” Leach said in a statement. “I loved Washington State, but I am excited for the next chapter in the SEC. It’s a privilege to be a part of the MSU family, and we look forward to getting down to Starkville shortly.”

The high-profile hiring of Leach heightens the annual Egg Bowl intrigue, with Ole Miss making its own splash by hiring head coach Lane Kiffin last month.

Kiffin sent a message to Leach on Twitter, writing “Welcome to the state old pirate and friend!!”