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Ex-Washington State coach Mike Leach apologizes for tweet depicting woman with noose

Former Washington State head coach Mike Leach watches his team during the second half of a game on  Sept. 7, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

An offensive tweet has again elicited an apology from Mike Leach.

The former Washington State football coach has steadily built one of the most popular Twitter accounts in college football, constantly sharing amusing photos, videos and internet memes to an audience of 357,300 followers.

While Leach’s posts have often toed the line between entertaining and offensive, the new Mississippi State coach boldly crossed it Wednesday night, posting a photo of an elderly woman resting in a chair and knitting a noose to pass her time during self-quarantine.

A caption read: “After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf.”

Before the tweet was deleted, it received more than 4,000 likes.

Leach drafted an apology tweet Thursday, writing “I sincerely regret if my choice of images in my tweets were found offensive. I had no intention of offending anyone.”

Multiple Mississippi State football players who are black took offense and offered their thoughts about the tweet. According to the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi, senior linebacker Erroll Thompson, a captain for the 2019 Bulldogs, quote tweeted the original post with a hand-on-the-chin, eyebrow-raised thinking emoji. Defensive tackle Fabien Lovett expressed his anger in a tweet. Defensive end Kobe Jones echoed those sentiments, responding to Lovett’s post with “Facts. He tripping.”

It isn’t the first time Leach has raised controversy over a social media post, nor the first time in the past few months that he’s retracted a tweet. In February, the coach tweeted out a series of thoughts about U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote against Donald Trump in the president’s impeachment trial.

Leach posed this question to his followers: “As an American, does ANYONE, REALLY want Mitt Romney on their side?!”

The coach, a public supporter of Trump who has a personal relationship with the president, also tweeted: “Those that believe in the competence of Mitt Romney, what do you trust him to do?”

Leach’s most notable Twitter blunder was in July 2018, when he posted a doctored video of a speech made by former President Barack Obama in 2014.

The tweet caused an uproar among WSU fans and donors, who reportedly withdrew $1.6 million in pledges.