Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach has been a bit of a lightning rod over the course of his career. Now his actions have cost him at least one player. Bulldogs defensive tackle Fabien Lovett announced earlier this week he was transferring from MSU, and now his father says a Twitter post Leach sent out is the reason the player is leaving.
The tweet that has caused problems for Leach included a picture of an old woman holding knitting sticks. The caption of the photo read, “after 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf..” The picture then showed not a scarf, but a noose. Despite the coach apparently thinking the meme was funny, several people commented on it, including more than one Mississippi State player who didn’t find the post amusing.
Leach came to Starkville this winter after being hired away from Washington State. The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in delays to events such as college football spring practices, so the coach hasn’t really been able to meet with his new team since coming on board.
I have entered the transfer portal with 3 years left of eligibility.— ???? (@fabo_54) April 3, 2020
Lovett was one of the players who made it clear that the idea of posting a picture of a noose, particularly in a state with a history like Mississippi’s, was not the best idea. He eventually decided he was going to transfer.
The player’s father, Abdual Lovett, recently talked to The Clarion-Ledger. Father and son discussed what Fabien should do in wake of the tweet. Eventually, they both decided it would be better for the player to leave.
The elder Lovett told the paper he questioned Leach’s ability to lead if he was posting memes like that for all to see.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with my son being down there with a guy like that from a leadership standpoint — that you can just throw anything out there. I feel if he can do it, the kids are going to feel like they can do it.”
Abdual said one of Mississippi State’s coaches gave him Leach’s number after it became obvious Fabien was unhappy, but his father said he felt like Leach should have reached out to him if he was really sorry for the tweet.
The defensive tackle’s loss could be felt this coming season. In his true freshman year, he appeared in 11 games for the Bulldogs, and logged 19 total tackles and a sack.
This is not the first time that Leach has gotten himself in trouble at a school. Earlier in his career, he was fired by Texas Tech after several players went to the media about his coaching style. After leaving the Red Raiders, he was hired by Washington State and was there until going to Mississippi State.