Mike Leach, the quirky head coach at three universities who audaciously commanded a high-powered, pass-happy Air Raid offense, which influenced other colleges and N.F.L. teams, died on Monday in Jackson, Miss. He was 61.
The cause was complications of a heart condition, Mississippi State University, where he coached the last three seasons, announced. After suffering what the university called a “personal health issue” at his home in Starkville on Sunday, he was airlifted to a hospital in Jackson.
Leach deployed his hyperactive “Air Raid” offense at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State. With each team his quarterback threw an unusually high number of passes from the shotgun formation with four or five receivers spread widely along the line of scrimmage.
Over 21 seasons, his teams had a record of 158-107 and won eight of 17 bowl games.
Kliff Kingsbury, one of Leach’s quarterbacks at Texas Tech, who later coached there and now coaches the Arizona Cardinals of the N.F.L., said on Twitter: “There is no way I would be where I am today if not for Mike Leach and everything he taught me about the game. Truly one of the most innovative offensive minds in football, he was more than a coach.”
Leach was also known for his off-the-field interests. Fascinated by pirates, he kept a talking life-size model of one in his office. In addition to writing a book about his own career, he was the author of “Geronimo: Leadership Secrets of an American Warrior” (2015).
His survivors include his wife, Sharon, and four children.
A complete obituary will follow