Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin built a strong friendship with Mississippi State leader Mike Leach despite the two ending up on opposite sides of a bitter SEC rivalry. That relationship dated back to Kiffin’s time at USC.
Their first ever meeting came in a bowl game between the Trojans and Texas Tech, where Leach was coaching at the time. He’d soon join the PAC 12 with Washington State, and the bond would continue to blossom.
Both coaches have been considered offensive masterminds, though their schemes differ greatly. Kiffin likes to run an up-tempo spread attack, though he relies heavily on the run game.
Leach, meanwhile, was full air raid.
Despite the differences, they often discussed strategies on the field, as well as life away from it.
The two had also been among college football’s most entertaining personalities, never hesitating to say what’s on their minds. When Leach passed last December, the sports world was stunned.
Kiffin offered his condolences while discussing some his fondest memories of head coach both on and off the field.
“I truly loved coach Leach and every minute I shared with him… I can’t imagine college football without him.”
This offseason, he continues to pay tribute, most recently during a trip to Key West.
Known as ‘The Pirate,’ Mike Leach was a frequent patron of a little bar called Capt. Tony’s Saloon. Following his passing, the pirate themed establishment hung a barstool with Leach’s name on it in the rafters, nuzzled right in between Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy.
While sitting at the bar on a recent trip, Lane Kiffin snapped a photo of that Mike Leach seat and uploaded it to his Twitter account with simply a heart as the caption.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) May 14, 2023
Fans were quick to comment on the tribute, posting their replies online.
One person wrote, “This is so cool,” while another said, “Mike Leach was an absolute legend.”
Love it!! I still miss The Pirate⚔️🗡️!!! #SwingYourSword pic.twitter.com/cWDvooqhqV
— Jen Richey❤️💙 (@jmrichey81) May 14, 2023
The two coached their last game against one another in the 2022 with Mississippi State beating Ole Miss, 24-22. They split their four all-time meetings, with that last Egg Bowl being Leach’s final game.