Jul 19, 2022; Atlanta, GA, USA; Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach shown on the stage during SEC Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach on SEC realignment: ‘Let me handle that’

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said realigning the SEC will be a snap when Texas and Oklahoma arrive in 2025.

“They oughta let me handle that,” Leach said Tuesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “I’ll have that done by lunch. I think it would be brilliant to let me handle it.”

Leach suggested moving Alabama and Auburn to the SEC East and letting Oklahoma and Texas join his Bulldogs in the SEC West.

“You knock those guys off and send them to the East and we have to play Texas and OU, tell me how I’ve lost on that deal,” Leach said. “I have a lot of respect for those guys, but in this conference they can just go ahead and get in line with everybody else.”

Leach, 61, is entering his third season in Starkville, Miss. Mississippi State finished 7-6 last season after going 4-7 in his first year on campus in 2020.

Leach coached against Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12 at Texas Tech from 2000-09.

Never shy about giving an opinion, Leach touched on a wide range of subjects during his time on the dais Tuesday, Topics included the beef between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher over name, image and likeness deals, as well as the dance moves of LSU’s Brian Kelly and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer.

Back in May, Saban made a crack that Texas A&M “bought every player on their team.” Fisher insisted the Aggies broke no rules and questioned Saban’s character, with both coaches ultimately receiving reprimands from the SEC.

Leach said the current NIL situation — Saban said his players earned more than $3 million in deals in the past year — is “not sustainable.”

“I think they both kind of illustrate the frustration of how things are right now and it’s not sustainable, so something’s going to change,” Leach said. “We haven’t defined what exactly is an amateur, or a student-athlete, as opposed to a professional, and I think we need to do that. I think there is ways to do it.”

As for dancing coaches, Leach gave Beamer the nod over Kelly after the South Carolina coach’s performance went viral on Tuesday.

“Some of those guys are into this stuff,” Leach said. “I mean, can you imagine that? (Beamer) is definitely up there. Let’s think this through. I don’t know, you’ve got to give Coach Kelly an A for effort. But I do think it was more effort than ability. I don’t know, maybe Beamer. I think Beamer is the guy to beat right now.”

Mississippi State opens the season at home against Memphis on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Mississippi State Bulldogs Head Coach Mike Leach talks to the referee after a turnover by his team to the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.


Reports: Mississippi State’s Mike Leach signs extension

Mississippi State and football coach Mike Leach agreed to a two-year extension through the 2025 season, multiple outlets reported.

Leach, 61, completed the first two years of a four-year deal he signed with the Bulldogs in January of 2020. The new agreement boosts his annual compensation from $5 million to $5.5 million, according to reports from the Clarion Ledger and ESPN.

Leach led Mississippi State to a 4-7 record in 2020 and a 7-6 mark in 2021. The Bulldogs beat Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl after his first season and lost to his former employer Texas Tech in the Liberty Bowl last season.

Overall, he owns a 150-103 record in 20 seasons as a head coach at Texas Tech (2000-09), Washington State (2012-19) and Mississippi State.

–Field Level Media

Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on during the final minute of the game as Auburn Tigers take on Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated Auburn Tigers 43-34.

Reports: Mississippi State extends Mike Leach through 2025

Mississippi State and its head football coach, Mike Leach, agreed to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday according to multiple reports.

The extension reportedly will keep Leach in Starkville, Miss. through the 2025 season and raise his annual salary to $5.5 million.

Leach, 61, is entering his third season at the helm of the Bulldogs. They went 4-7 in his first season — the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign — and 7-6 last season. In both seasons, Mississippi State went to bowl games, winning the Armed Forces Bowl in 2020 and losing the Liberty Bowl in 2021.

Mississippi State is the third stop for Leach as a head coach. He won 84 games — and never had a losing season — in 10 years at Texas Tech. After a few years away from coaching, he was hired at Washington State in 2012 and went 55-47 in eight seasons, guiding the Cougars to a 2-4 record in bowl games.

Leach was an understudy of Hal Mumme and helped popularize his pass-heavy “Air Raid” offensive attack.

Will Rogers returns as the Bulldogs quarterback this season after finishing second in the SEC in passing yards (4,739) and passing touchdowns (36) last year.

Mississippi State opens its 2022 season at home against Memphis on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2021; Hoover, Alabama, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach speaks to the media during SEC Media Days at Hyatt Regency Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach ‘would like to see’ 64-team CFP

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach is all for the expansion of the College Football Playoff — he just has a different number of teams in mind than most.

Asked Wednesday during SEC Media Days whether the current proposal of a 12-team model was enough teams, Leach said he preferred 64.

“It’s never enough,” Leach said. “But I’ll tell you what, Dr. (Mark) Keenum, our president, is on that committee so I know they’re in good hands and so I think that part’s outstanding.

“I think 12 teams is a huge step in the right direction. I personally would like to see 64, and you could format it out pretty easily. But I think it’s a huge step in the right direction and I look forward to it.”

It isn’t the first time Leach, known for his eccentric personality and off-topic tangents during press conferences, has spoken of a 64-team football playoff. In one 2012 interview, he called 64 “ideal” and justified it by suggesting the regular season be cut to 10 games.

Leach has remained pro-expansion while other coaches have come out against growing the CFP larger than four. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday that “I don’t think there’s 12 teams good enough” to deserve the national title.

A subcommittee last month recommended a proposal that would expand the field from four to 12 programs, giving the top four seeds a first-round bye and having teams 5-12 play each other in the first round at home fields rather than neutral sites.

Sixty-four is the current size of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament field, with the men at a similar number in 68.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA;     Washington State Cougars wide receiver Jamire Calvin (6) catches a pass for a first down in the second half of the game against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

WR Jamire Calvin transferring to Mississippi State

Wide receiver Jamire Calvin said he’s transferring to Mississippi State, where he’ll rejoin Mike Leach, his former coach at Washington State.

He announced his decision on social media late Saturday.

Calvin, from Pasadena, Calif., was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2017. He took a medical redshirt in 2019 and has two years of eligibility remaining.

In three seasons with the Cougars, he appeared in 30 games and made 92 catches for 980 yards and five touchdowns.

The 5-foot-10 played two seasons under Leach.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the 2021 season on Sept. 4 against Louisiana Tech in Starkville, Miss.

Mississippi State finished 4-7 (3-7 Southeastern Conference) in 2020, which was Leach’s first season with the Bulldogs.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach stands on the sidelines during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Miss. St. exodus continues as three more players leave

Three more players are departing the Mississippi State football program, coach Mike Leach said Wednesday.

Junior wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, junior defensive end Tre Lawson and freshman Jamari Stewart are the most recent defectors from the program. In all, that makes seven players to leave the Bulldogs in two weeks, joining sophomore quarterbacks Garrett Shrader and Jalen Mayden, freshman offensive lineman Nick Pendley and senior running back Kareem Walker, 247Sports reported.

That does not include running back Kylin Hill, the third-leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference last year, who is rumored to be on his way out of Starkville.

Leach said Wednesday that he believes Hill plans to leave Mississippi State to get ready for the 2021 NFL Draft.

“We wish him the best,” said Leach, who is in his first season leading the Bulldogs.

In three games this season, Hill has 15 carries for 58 yards. He also caught 23 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. He did not play in the team’s most recent game, a 28-14 home loss to Texas A&M.

Mississippi is 1-3 on the year and is scheduled to play at Alabama on Saturday. Leach said on Wednesday’s coaches teleconference that he would “be surprised if we don’t lose more.”

Mississippi State won its first game, a 44-34 defeat of LSU, but has lost the past three. Leach said after an embarrassing 24-2 loss to Kentucky on Oct. 10 that a roster overhaul could be coming.

“I think we’re going to have to kind of check some of our group and figure out who really wants to play here,” Leach said. “Any malcontents, we’re going to have to purge a couple of those.”

–Field Level Media