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Mississippi State honors Mike Leach in bowl game with pirate helmets, delay of game from Air Raid formation

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Mississippi State will face off against Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Monday, kicking off the January 2nd bowl slate. During the game, the team will honor former coach Mike His Leach with a special helmet designed in honor of him. Just before kickoff, the school announced that the team would wear maroon helmets with a white pirate flag to honor Leach, who was famous for his interest in the history of the pirate lifestyle.

Leach died on December 13 at the age of 61 after complications from heart disease. He was hospitalized two days ago after suffering from a medical condition at his home.

Below are the helmets the Bulldog players will be wearing against the Fighting Illini on Monday.

As the game began, Mississippi received the opening kick and once again honored their deceased coach. The Bulldogs lined up in an airstrike formation and played down his clock to zero for what was a football version of a moment of silence. Illinois refused to delay the game penalty.

After former coach Dan Mullen left for Florida, Leach got a job in Mississippi. Leach was 19-17 in his three seasons leading the Bulldogs. This included a 24–22 victory over rival Ole in his last game at the Egg Bowl. He went 158-107 overall and had stints at Texas Tech (2000-09) and Washington State University (2012-19).

He was widely known as the designer of air raid offenses. This was to spread the receiver and use his game short passes as an aid to his game running. When the two worked together in Kentucky (1997-98), where he developed an offense alongside Hal Mumme, Leach won National Coach of the Year that year, three times for him, and a Power Five. He won the conference coach of the year three times. During his 21-year head coaching career, he won his two Power Five Division titles and led the team to his 19th bowl his game.

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