Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma OL Coach Bill Bedenbaugh on Mentor Mike Leach: ‘He Was Obviously One of a Kind’

It’s been a few months now since the college football world lost the legendary Mike Leach, but Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh recently reflected on Leach and what his former mentor meant to him with a number of media members after a spring practice.

“Yeah, you know, obviously very influential,” Bedenbaugh said. “I knew him since I was 17 years old. [He] recruited me, gave me my first job at this level. It’s very tough, a tough situation for everybody. And he had such an impact on so many people. Going to his service and just seeing all the people, you understand as a coach that’s what happens.

“And he was obviously one of a kind. And a lot of things I do to this day are modeled after him, and a lot of what college football and NFL football does are modeled after him and Coach [Hal] Mummy.

“So, yeah, he’ll be missed and it’s tough deal. But, you know, very, very important to me and in my career.”


Bedenbaugh and Leach first linked up when Leach was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Iowa Wesleyan and Bedenbaugh was a freshman offensive lineman back in 1991. Bedenbaugh completed his career, then spent a year at Oklahoma Panhandle State, before reuniting with Leach at Valdosta State in 1996.

When Leach became head coach at Texas Tech in 2000, Bedenbaugh joined him as a graduate assistant. The two proceeded to spend seven seasons together, before Bedenbaugh left to join Mike Stoops’ staff at Arizona in 2007.

So, there was clearly an extensive relationship between the two.

Leach passed away back on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022 at the age of 61. He was hospitalized the night before after having suffered what was called at the time a “personal health issue” at his home. The University confirmed the news in a statement released on that Sunday, and a day later the Clarion Ledger reported that Leach had suffered a heart attack.

In a statement, the Leach family said: “Mike was a giving and attentive husband, father and grandfather. He was able to participate in organ donation at UMMC as a final act of charity. We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world.  Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father’s life.”


Leach had been at Mississippi State since before the 2020 college football season. Prior to that he spent eight seasons at Washington State, which was preceded by his time at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009, where he led the Red Raiders to a Big 12 South division title in 2008. In 36 games since joining the Bulldogs, he was 19-17 and led the team to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons.

Over his 21 years as a head coach, Leach compiled a 158-107 (.596) record, guided his squads to 19 bowl games, produced seven seasons of at least nine victories, captured two conference division titles, became the winningest coach in Texas Tech history and set school records for bowl appearances at both Texas Tech (10) and Washington State (6). During 10 of those 21 seasons, Leach’s passing attack led the FBS – six at Texas Tech and four at Washington State.


Leach built arguably the greatest coaching tree in college football, giving countless coaches their start in the profession. The rest of his historic tree includes former and current head coaches Lincoln Riley, Dave Aranda, Sonny Cumbie, Dana Holgorsen, Seth Littrell, Art Briles, Ken Wilson, Neal Brown, Josh Heupel, Eric Morris, Sonny Dykes, Kliff Kingsbury, Ruffin McNeill and assistant coaches Wes Welker, Bill Bedenbaugh, Robert Anae, Alex Grinch, Brandon Jones, and more.

Mississippi State football is set to play in the ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Florida. Defensive coordinator Zach Arnett is in charge of the program on an interim basis.

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