Mike Leach hasn’t coached a game at Mississippi State yet, but already his new school and his former school have agreed on a future home-and-home series that could conceivably reunite Washington State and the third-winningest coach in program history.
WSU announced two nonconference games against Mississippi State on Wednesday, revealing the Cougars and Bulldogs will play in Starkville, Mississippi, on Aug. 31, 2030, and then again in Pullman on Aug. 30, 2031. The latter date would mark the first time an SEC opponent has played at Martin Stadium.
While the matchup could signify a reunion between Leach and WSU, the coach would have to stay at Mississippi State for at least 11 seasons and would be 69 years old by the time the nonconference game rolled around. Leach’s tenure with the Cougars, from 2012-19, lasted eight years and he spent 10 more years coaching at Texas Tech, from 2000-09.
“We are excited to schedule this series with Mississippi State and bring an SEC opponent to Martin Stadium for the first time in school history,” WSU Director of Athletics Pat Chun said in a school release. “To create a matchup between the Pac-12 and the SEC is always great for our league and the series exemplifies our commitment to schedule top nonconference opponents. We look forward to a fun experience for our student-athletes, alumni and fans in Pullman and Starkville.”
Mississippi State will be the sixth SEC opponent for WSU and the first since 2013, when the Cougars traveled to Auburn, ultimately losing 31-24 in the debut for Tigers coach Gus Malzahn. WSU’s other former SEC opponents include Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Aside from Leach, there are a few other connections between WSU and MSU. President Kirk Schulz held various roles in Starkville from 2001-09 and concluded his time at the school as the vice president for Research and Economic Development. WSU First Lady Noel Schulz was the director of faculty and women in engineering and an endowed professor in power systems engineering.
Ex-MSU football coach, Jackie Sherrill, spent one year in Pullman (1976) more than a decade before taking the job in Starkville – one he held for 13 years before retiring.
The series against MSU is one of four WSU has scheduled against Power Five competition over the next 11 years. The Cougars are visiting Wisconsin in 2022 before hosting the Big Ten Badgers in 2023. WSU has a pair of Big-12 series set up, as well, as the Cougars will host Kansas and Kansas State in 2027 and 2029, respectively, and visit the Wildcats and the Jayhawks in 2026 and 2028.
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