Mississippi State will be playing the ReliaQuest Bowl against Illinois with heavy hearts as the school pays tribute to the late Mike Leach, who died last month.
The university released a tribute video to honor Leach and revealed they will wear a pirate logo on their helmets to honor the coach’s swashbuckler nickname. The game will take place at Raymond James Stadium – the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team had a memorial set up near the pirate ship that looks over one of the end zones at the stadium.
On Sunday, the school released the tribute video narrated by quarterback Will Rogers.
“Time is precious. Never has that been as clear as it is now,” Rogers says in the video. “For three years, we sailed with our pirate. Oh, the lessons we learned from him. A new journey was his destiny. But now, we have a chance to show the world how he’ll remain a part of us forever. How do we do that? Just like he taught us – we’ll be the most excited to play.
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“No matter the ups, no matter the downs, we’ll play the next play unwilling to be caught up in or burdened by the ones who play before it. Put simply, we’ll play the kind of football he wanted us to play. We’ll do our jobs over and over and over again until the clock reads 0:00.”
Mississippi State vowed to play the game in Leach’s honor because that’s what the coach would want them to do.
The school said Leach died following complications from a heart condition. He was 61. Zach Arnett will coach the team in the bowl game.
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