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SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey ditches formal attire during Media Days in honor of Mike Leach

Commissioner Greg Sankey seemed to take a casual approach to this year’s SEC Football Kickoff Media Days, but the lack of formal attire during Monday’s opening day wasn’t just a personal choice. 

Sankey revealed that the decision not to wear a tie was meant as a way to honor former Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach, who died in December following complications from a heart condition.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to the media

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during Day 1 of 2023 SEC Media Days at Grand Hyatt Nashville on July 17, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images)

He was 61. 

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“Last year in Atlanta, one of my backstage conversations was about the uselessness of neckties. It was a conversation that went much longer than I anticipated and ended in the rhetorical question of why neckties survived but powdered wigs went away,” Sankey said as the crowd chuckled in response. 

“That conversation was with Mike Leach and today I am without a tie just to honor Mike’s memory.”

Mike Leach before a game against Arkansas

Head Coach Mike Leach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs arrives at the stadium before a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Nov. 6, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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“It’s important that we remember people who have contributed, be it for the short term or the long term, to this wonderful conference. And we’re going to miss Mike, but he’s not going to be forgotten.”

​​In 21 seasons as a head coach at Texas Tech, Washington State and Mississippi State, Leach went 158-107. Six of the 20 best passing seasons in major college football history were by quarterbacks who played for Leach, including four of the top six.

Mike Leach in September 2022

Sep 17, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach looks on against the LSU Tigers during the first half at Tiger Stadium. (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

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“We lost Mike in December, a person important not simply to the Southeastern Conference — we only had him for a few seasons, but to all of college football,” Sankey continued. “He was fascinating and impacted all of the lives of thousands of people across the college football spectrum and across his life.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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