Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, 61, was hospitalized Sunday after what the university called “a personal health issue” that happened at his home in Starkville.
Leach was initially treated at a local hospital before being airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, which is about 125 miles away from Mississippi State, the university said.
“This is not some fire drill or something that just involves a cough,” sports writer Steve Robertson apparently reported after speaking to people familiar with the matter. “From what I’m told, the next few hours are critical. Coach has a long road ahead of him. The situation is very, very serious.”
Robertson added, “There was a delay in getting airborne due to some weather, but they were able to find a window and got him down there safely.”
UMMC spokesman Marc Rolph said Leach was listed as a patient at the hospital, but had no information regarding the coach’s condition.
Mississippi State has also remained mum on the coach’s condition.
“The university will make no other comment at this time other than to say that the thoughts and prayers of the university are with Mike and Sharon and their family,” the university said in a statement.
Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has been placed in charge of the football team by Mississippi State President Mark Keenum and interim athletic director Bracky Brett as it prepares for an appearance in the ReliaQuest Bowl against Illinois on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Florida.
Leach is in his third season at Mississippi State, with a 19-17 record. Leach acknowledged a persistent cough earlier this year, and he told ESPN that he was struggling with pneumonia late in the season.
At the time, Leach told ESPN that he was already feeling better.
Leach, known for his prolific Air Raid offenses, is 158-107 in 21 seasons as a head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State.
College football fans went on Twitter to discuss their favorite moments of Leach. One Twitter account posted a video of Leach discussing Halloween candy.
Take a look —
Pulling for Mike Leach tonight. This clip alone makes him a goddamn American hero.pic.twitter.com/eE9wrgN4nl
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) December 12, 2022
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.