Football coach had heart condition.
It's a difficult time to be enthusiastic about college football. But in the midst of the mess you have placed value on the places deserving statements of value. Thank you for keeping the eye on the importance of character and of simple gratitude for those who should be admired. Your articles on Leach are fine contributions to the importance we can still find among college athletes and their mentors and coaches. I appreciate that.
That ER nurse he reached out to was my daughter Andrea Perry. He took the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to call her and wish her well in her cancer journey. She was blown away talking to him- we loved him as our Coach at WSU ❤️. Unbelievably sad right now. He was one of a kind and we loved him. Prayers to his family 🙏. RIP Coach 💔
I was, I soon realized, very smitten with Mike Leach. It was a Washington State fundraising event and a small group gathered in an even smaller room in downtown Portland. Bill Moos was there, big wig donors were there and Coach Leach talked to most. As the evening wore on, every time Mike passed by I smelled something sweet, sugary. I soon found myself beside him, our eyes met and I said "what's that sweet smell, kind of a sugary thing?" He looked at the glass in his hand and said "Grape Vodka." It was the last thing I expected him to be sipping. Soon, he'd ordered me one, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about the unique qualities of grape vodka and many other random topics. I felt such an affinity for him in that instance - his humor, kindness, sparkling eyes and the way he could, indeed, talk about anything, even with a perfect stranger. An evening I'll never forget. Cheers to you, Mike Leach.
As an "old" Coug, we were lucky he passed our way. He embraced what makes Pullman and playing football there special, not for everybody, but Mike Leach wasn't for everybody either. A perfect match for the time and place. I hated to see him move on, and now hate even more that he has left, but his imprint is forever as a football savant and unique personality. We won't see anyone else even close.....
Everytime you interviewed Coach Leach on your radio program, I would listen to the entire interview. Sometimes I would have sit in my parked car for several minutes to catch the entire interview, even at risk of being late for appointment. Coach Leach was that entertaining. Like so many others, I am going to miss that. John, your listeners would love if you could put together a montage of Mike Leach interviews on your podcast so we can listen to him do his thing often. Coach Leach is already missed by so many.
John, my first year on the university of Kentucky beat for the Louisville Courier-Journal was 1998. Hal Mumme was in year 2 as head coach. Leach was QB coach. Tim Couch was the QB. During August practice I set up meetings with each of the assistant coaches to get to know them and learn about their group. I didn’t know much about Leach, other than he was a little “different.” One day after practice I got the full experience. We sat in his office and talked for about two hours - about everything except football. It was quite an introduction. He was definitely unique. RIP, Pirate.
Thank you for your thoughtful and humane coverage of Coach Leach’s passing. Perhaps the phone conversations Leach enjoyed having with you were out growths of his trust in your sincere desire to find the humanity with in the story. I admire this quality in your approach to writing as well.
Praying for Mike’s family
As I grow older, I am becoming more aware that moments need to be cherished, conflicts need to be set aside, and joys need to be sustained.
Rest Well Mike Leach
As a former SID, I love his Iowa Wesleyan tenure. He was the school’s SID in addition to being an assistant football coach.
He did sports information work with gusto. He even got national exposure for the high flying football.
Of course the school would be delighted.
The suits in the main office directed him to dial it back.
That’s so Mike Leach. And so indicative of small-minded small colleges.
John, it's clear the man meant a lot to you. And you are right, the world was a better place with Mike in it. But I think too he would like these words: DON'T CRY BECAUSE I'M GONE; SMILE BECAUSE I LIVED.
LEACH WAS ONE OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES EVER I HAVE EVER WATCHED, BEING IN EVERY SECOND OF THE GAME!!!!!! PERSONALLY, I WANTED TO ENJOY COACHES AND MANY ASSISTANTS FROM MANY TEAMS, BUT LEACH GRABBED ME AND I COULDN’T LET GO!!!! EMOTION, YES, THE FIRST COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACH TO GRAB ME!!!
MIKE WILL REST IN PEACE AND I WISH THE VERY BEST TO HIS FAMILY!!!!
Truly a sad day for Cougar Nation and all who follow college athletics, especially football.
John, you say he wasn’t for everybody, but he was just the right guy for WSU. To be successful at WSU, you need to be different. Give opponents something unique to prepare for—Coach Leach epitomized this not only in Pullman, but in all his stops from Lexington to Starkville.
As a former coach, reading Swing Your Sword was a treat. One quote has stuck with me and can be applied to one’s life, not just coaching: “You either coach it, or you allow it to happen”. When things go wrong, and you’re in charge, the buck stops with you. He always started his press conferences by accepting responsibility before going down the various roads with the press. Doubters can go back, check the tapes.
Thinking of his family and all those close to Coach Leach.
It was always a joy to hear your conversations with Coach Leach. His observations about football and life were always refreshing, genuine and thought provoking. Sincere voices like his are rare. It is a sad day. Coach Leach will be dearly missed.
It's always hard to not raise the "what ifs", when someone passes away.
What if he took better care of his health?
What if he would have recognized the warning signs?
We would like to think that his family made sure that he took care of himself. Still.....it's so very sad and hard not to focus on the loss that his family (and his football players/staff) have to endure.
I will always continue to thank you, John, for keeping all of us updated on people we know of, but you know well! You've done a masterful job over the years with telling us stories of Mike Leach, Noah & Penne Sewell's parents, the nurse who saved two lives, etc. I can honestly say that those stories matter to us because we all need to be reminded that there are good, decent, helpful people in the world. People who would not think twice about helping a stranger.
God Bless You!!
God Bless Mike Leach!! Our prayers go out to his family!
Mike Leach...the real " Most Interesting Man In The World" is gone. But he won't be forgotten. His radio clips with you and so many others will be around a long time. God's Speed Pirate!
This article and the one earlier were great pieces on this once in a long time figure. CFB is a mess right now and to have strong personalities that are unique and genuine persons and not just a current CFB coach somewhere on a career journey is a treat. I’ll admit I probably didn’t enjoy him as much as I could have before this.
Also want to commend you on your coverage. Respectful to the family. Not saying you did know anything ahead of time but if you did you certainly didn’t share and you didn’t post and post and post to get a jump on breaking it. A sad realization about society and this need it all now mentality. I need to know! In fact, you don’t.