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Mike Leach, my mother, and the gift of life

Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To know Mike Leach — the head coach of the Mississippi State University football team who passed away from a heart attack a few weeks ago — was to love him. I loved him, and I never even met him.

The closest I came was watching him on the sidelines. My favorite team — the MSU Spartans of East Lansing, Michigan, which is more than 800 miles north of Starkville, Mississippi, home of Leach's MSU Bulldogs — faced off against teams coached by Leach twice in recent memory. Leach bested the Spartans 41-31 in the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl while he was still at Texas Tech, and the Spartans trounced Leach and the Washington State Cougars* 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl in 2017.

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