Jan 2, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; a logo for former Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach was painted on the field for the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl with Illinois Fighting Illini and Mississippi State Bulldogs at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On the first play of the game against Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl, Mississippi State played tribute to their fallen head coach Mike Leach who died almost a month ago from a massive heart attack.

The Bulldogs are wearing helmets with pirate flags on them as a tribute to the man known to many as “the pirate.” The band also honored Leach by wearing black pins and playing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. They also spelled out his name.

When the team got the ball the first time, they lined up for an offensive play in the Air Raid formation but took a delay of game penalty, which Illinois declined. The delay of the game acted as an on-field moment of silence for the legendary coach.

Leach was beloved around the country by college fans and coaches alike who paid tribute to him over the last few weeks since his death. A lot of SEC teams, including Ole Miss and Alabama, wore decals with Leach’s name on the back of the helmet with a cowbell, which is associated with the Bulldog fanbase.

Leach’s impact on the world of college football can still be felt. His run-and-gun style of offense has been used by former players like Kliff Kingsbury, coach of the Arizona Cardinals, who once played under Leach at Texas Tech.

{SEC Network  Cardinals Fans }

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.