The late Mike Leach was a proven winner at each of his stops and he did it with his own unique flair. John Cohen was the man who hired Leach at Mississippi State and he was effusive in his praise during an interview on Tuesday on the SEC Network.

The Auburn athletics director was in the same role for Mississippi State when he brought in Leach to jump start the Bulldogs.


Mississippi State went on an upward trajectory during Leach’s 3 seasons, doubling from 4 wins in 2020 to 8 wins this season.

“I think he’s one of the great ones,” Cohen said. “I think he’s one of those pioneers that really changed the game for the good.”

Cohen raved about the culture of dignity and inclusivity that Leach brought to the locker room.

“Mike had the backs of his players and he had the backs of his assistant coaches. I think that’s why his staff was so cohesive and stayed together for so long,” Cohen said. “Very unique that you see that at the highest levels of college football and I think there was a lot of loyalty as there should have been to Mike Leach.”

Cohen ended the interview by dispelling the stereotypes of Leach based on his jovial demeanor and empathized the results speak for themselves.

“If you get to know him and you take the time to be in his inner circle, you’re going to find out that he’s not what everybody assumes that he is. Of course, he’s intelligent. Of course, he’s hilarious. Of course, he was just one of those engaging people that you love to be around. But there was much more there,” Cohen said. “I loved the guy. I think he was something that college football needed and I think he was somebody that Mississippi State needed.”