After eight seasons at Washington State, Mike Leach jumped at the chance to take over an SEC program.

Why did he do it? What made Mississippi State the right fit for a coach known for his incredible passing production, which has spanned across the nation in major college football and into the NFL in recent seasons after Leach helped implement it at lower levels of college football decades ago?

That was one of the first questions Leach was asked during the first press conference of his Mississippi State tenure on Friday.

“Why I chose Mississippi State — the cowbell represents a lot of the pride and tradition that personifies this place and I guess there’s so many ways to describe that, you know? They put the symbol under the cowbell and that means more than we really have time to talk about here but it’s something that even as an outsider you feel,” Leach said.

“Then the commitment to football that the state of Mississippi has and the entire southeast region and then the athletes that you have the opportunity to be a part of here. And they only become that way through incredibly hard work and dedication and I want to be a part of that, and I wanted to have the opportunity to, you know, have another chapter in my career.

“We all, you know, why do you play sports? Whether you’re a player or a coach is to have the opportunity to see or do something bigger than you currently are as you fight and scratch to achieve and so you know this is a place with great resources and a great opportunity, in my opinion, to do that.”

Based on that response, Leach sees the potential of Mississippi State and if there’s one coach in the nation that knows how to get the most out of his players, it’s the new leader of the Hail State program.