Bo Rein – Promising Start Ended Tragically

NC State’s Football program has been re-energized with Coach Tom O’Brien’s injection of hope for a nice steady climb back to respectability. The dream of this kind of future can’t help but harken names of Wolfpack-past like Edwards, Holtz, Sheridan and Rein.

I don’t hesitate to say that there are multiple generations of NC State fans who are not familiar with Rein and they should be. So, we have been saving this article about Bo Rein for a generally slow time of year like right now.

By the looks of the first sentence of the article old Bo wouldn’t have fit very well into NC State’s landscape during this new millenium.

Bo Rein always aimed higher, never settling for the status quo. It’s fitting then, that the former Ohio State football player and short-time Louisiana State coach met his end going above and beyond.

Something horrible happened up there, high above the Louisiana landscape, where a veteran pilot and his tired passenger sailed in silence. Nearly 30 years later and still no one is certain why the plane depressurized and went cold. It could have been a crack in the fuselage. Or maybe a broken seal. We’ll never know, because the men and the plane were never found…

Rein joined Lou Holtz at William & Mary, then at North Carolina State, where at age 30 he became the nation’s youngest coach in 1976 when Holtz left for the New York Jets. After compiling a 27-18-1 record in four seasons at North Carolina State, Rein left for LSU to replace retiring Charlie McClendon.

On Jan. 10, 1980, exhausted from a full day of recruiting in Shreveport, La., Rein climbed into the Cessna Conquest and joined pilot Louis Benscotter for the 40-minute return flight to Baton Rouge. Along the way, the plane diverted east to avoid a storm.

“They requested a higher altitude because they were in heavy turbulence, and called back to ask to climb from 20,000 to 22,000 feet,” said Dietzel, a former World War II pilot. “That was their last radio signal. At about 20,000 feet, without enough oxygen you pass out and don’t know it. You drift off. Something went wrong with the pressurization in what was a brand new airplane.”

The plane climbed to 40,000 feet and was picked up and escorted by military aircraft as it flew east over North Carolina, 1,000 miles off course. The plane continued over the Atlantic Ocean, finally crashing 100 miles out to sea after running out of fuel. The military pilots spotted debris, but no wreckage was ever recovered. Rein was dead at age 34.

“The weird thing is the plane’s path took it right over the North Carolina State campus, where down below Bo’s wife and children were sleeping,” Dietzel said.

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58 Responses to Bo Rein – Promising Start Ended Tragically

  1. BoKnowsNCS71 05/13/2008 at 10:11 AM #

    I remember that as the oddest accident. Many years later a similar accident befell golfer Payne Stewart.

    I hated to see Bo leave NCSU — he was a good coach. I still remember the Bowl victory over Pitt.

  2. StateFans 05/13/2008 at 10:22 AM #

    I was very young, but remember listening to the Tangerine Bowl game vs Pitt on the radio at my uncle’s house in New Bern.

  3. GoldenChain 05/13/2008 at 10:34 AM #

    Bo was the coach all 4 years I was at State. In fact our last ACC Title was his last season (and my senior year).
    That was the season we were 7-4, won the ACC title, almost came back on Auburn who was highly ranked, and lost to Penn State on a last second 50+ yd FG that hit the cross bar and bounced in to give the top 5 Nittany Lions a 9-7 victory. AND we didn’t go to a bowl that year. We were offered the Garden State Bowl but turned it down. Supposedly because it fell durinf exam week. Perhaps more likely because the coach had decided to move on and didn’t want to wait around.
    His 1st season he was 3-8 however one of those 3 wins was against a ranked unx squad coached by Bill Dooley.

    I felt like after 4 seasons of Lou and 4 of Bo were were at the threshold of stepping up into a higher echelon of college football.

    After Bo we fell off into a somewhat similar situation to basketball (but shorter thank Gawd). 3 seasons of Kiffin who was basically all show and no go (sound familiar?) and then the dark ages of Tom Reed.

    We’ve had good years and bad ones but we’ve never quite reached that higher echelon.

  4. Wolf Dog 05/13/2008 at 11:08 AM #

    Rein was a good coach. Young and bright. It was a weird accidient. He did a great job after Holtz left. Then yes the dark ages of our football program sat in until Sheridan was hired. The onside kick after halftime against a ranked UNC when we had the lead still haunts Kiffin. That and the fiasco at midfield with Danny Ford grilling Kiffin as to why Kiffin turned him in to the NCAA. But if you think our quarterbacks were bad these past couple of years, you should have watched Tol Avery try and throw the ball. Tol was a great kid, bright and athletic, but he couldn’t throw the Pigskin. And talking about a boring offense General Reed thought we could just win playing smash mouth football. Reed has to go down as one of the worst coaches in State history.

  5. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 05/13/2008 at 11:12 AM #

    Bo was great.

    I think Kiffin got a little bit of a raw deal.

    He had to come on the heals Rein, Holtz and Edwards (excluding the 3-8 season with coaching legend Al Michaels at the helm)

    Had Kiffin Replaced Reed, O’Cain or Amato and gone 5-6, 6-5, 5-6 people would of thought this guy was the second coming.

    Kiffin never recovered from his year two onside kick against highly ranked UNC with a lead at the beginning of the second half. If I recall State had a pretty good record going into that game and things never seemed to be the same for Kiffin after that play.

    State fans soon learned that Monte wasn’t all that bad as he has gone on to be the best defensive coordinator in the NFL over the last 20 years and State got Tom Reed.

  6. packpower 05/13/2008 at 11:15 AM #

    Kiffin never recovered. I think the Pack was 4-0 or 4-1 heading into the UNC game and McIntosh had exceeded expectations which helped Kiffin’s QB situation.

    Question for the old-timers. There was a freshman reserve QB to Scott Smith named Darnell Jackson or Johnson (can’t remember) who played really well against Auburn. However, Tol Avery won the starting QB job the next year. What ever happened to Scott Smith’s reserve?

  7. WolftownVA81 05/13/2008 at 11:29 AM #

    I only got to see one year of Bo Rein and remember that heartbreak game ending field goal by Penn St. Back then seems like we really played some power houses in football. A little off topic but was it Kiffin or Reed who rode in on a white horse (literally) with a white hat when arrived for the first pep rally? Since it was my senior year, I beleive it was Kiffin but am not sure. I remember thinking that he was probably pretty full of himself (which ever coach it was.) Kinda like CTC’s red shoes and sunglasses. I’m real glad we now have a guy that’s more interested in performance verses show.

  8. Wolf Dog 05/13/2008 at 11:39 AM #

    Kiffin rode the white Horse and he parachuted in one time. Give Kiffin credit he poured everything he had into to job just like he has done in the NFL as one of the best DC in the game. I would have like to seen Kiffin have been given another year two and seen where he took us. The former poster is right everything just seemed to spiral downward after the onside kick. The media certainly rode him hard about it. But he never coached with all his own recruits, and he certainly has a knack for getting the most out of players. Kiffin has a bit of a different personality and that may be what holds people back from wanting him to be the head coach.

  9. PAPacker 05/13/2008 at 11:42 AM #

    It was Kiffin who rode on the white horse. I have to say that Kiffin was not a great coach. Great defensive coordinator, but not the personality to be a strong college coach nor the skill set. Reed was a pig besides being a very bad coach. Once at a Wolfpack Club meeting, when I was about 15, I asked Reed if it placed extra pressure on the program to win by playing the Citadel and Furman in the same year. He practically came across the table at me. All he could say was what great football teams they were and how we would be lucky to win those games. I remember getting a sick to my stomach about him and his very poor sense of what he was there to do. Same feeling with former basketball coach who will not be named and Kiffin. Bo Rein was a great guy. A player’s coach. Once at football camp I was kicking my cleats on the concrete to get mud off. He thought I was doing it because I was having a bad day. He came up and put his arm around me. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was just cleaning my shoes. Good hearted guy.

  10. RAWFS 05/13/2008 at 11:49 AM #

    Rein was a great guy, as many have said. I often wonder what our fortunes in football would have been had he not been lured away to LSU.

    Offtopic, but perhaps y’all might enjoy this:

    ECU Almost Begging to Join the Big East

  11. packpower 05/13/2008 at 11:49 AM #

    Kifffin rode the horse.

  12. Texpack 05/13/2008 at 11:54 AM #

    Three most vivid memories associated with Bo Rein were all from my Freshman year / Rein’s final year.

    First was the moment of silence for him in Reynolds at the basketball game the day after he died. In the pre-internet era lots of people there didn’t even know what had happened to Coach Rein the night before.

    Second memory was the loss to PSU. The 56 or 58 yd field goal was preceded by a touchdown drive where we scored within the final minute to take the lead 7-6. We had them 4th and 28 or something like that before they completed the long pass to set up a throw out of bounds to kill the clock and the FG.

    Fondest memory by far was the win at Klempson to essentially clinch the ACC Title. I sat with a friend of mine from high school in the Klempson student section. This game epitomized Bo Rein’s Woody Hayes upbringing. On the Tiggers first two possessions they fumbled in their end of the field. Both times we ran the ball right behind Jim Ritcher three straight plays and kicked FGs.

    We won the game on a goal line stand with less than a minute to go. I had exercised considerable restraint all day long until then. On the fourth down play the Tigger cheerleaders set off the cannon because they thought they had scored. I was at the opposite end of the stadium, but I could see Mike Nall(sp) #13 one of our safeties jump up into the air, pump his fist and start to run off the field. At that point I cut loose in the student section, where other than me you could have heard a pin drop.

    My Mom and Dad had come up for the game with our long time next door neighbors who were Klempson season ticket holders forever. Tailgating with them after the game was especially sweet.

  13. whitefang 05/13/2008 at 1:00 PM #

    I was fortunately there for Holtz’s last year as well as all 4 of Rein’s. (On the 4-1/2 year plan – graduated in Dec 79). I remember how disappointed I was when Rein took the LSU job, but I was on my way out and EXPECTED we would continue to be relevant in the ACC.
    I THINK my last football game as a student was the infamous Penn State field goal prayer that was answered by Satan for the Nittany Lions. For you other old timers whose memory is less clouded than mine – was this the last home game of the year? For some reason I recall wearing a tie to that game in the rain. It couldn’t have been homecoming though against Penn State? I am sure in those days I was feeling no pain at a football game, but I never wore a tie unless it was homecoming (fraternity stuff) so probably the trauma of that game combined with adult beverages has skewed my memories.

  14. Noah 05/13/2008 at 1:26 PM #

    Tol Avery was nowhere near as bad as people have made him out to be. You can find his stats online…they aren’t great, but they aren’t as miserable as every QB we’ve had since Rivers left. They are better than Terry Harvey’s (Harvery had a handful of big moments, but look at the INTs and the completion percentage).

    We had a shell of an offense and Avery was black during a time when there weren’t many black QBs that didn’t run a veer or a wishbone.

    And for everyone that disagrees, please explain why I learned about two dozen different insults for black men during those home games. Even when he did something right, it was usually followed by editorial comments. Never before and never since have I ever heard such vitriol as Avery had dumped on him…or at least that’s what I heard in my section. The person I was getting tickets from then was certainly a bigot…maybe they dumped all the racists together in those days.

    Avery’s numbers:

    1980 – 98-184, 1,114 yards
    1981 – 70-139, 825 yards
    1982 – 126-224, 1,396

    Those are very comparable to what Bruce Shaw and Johnny Evans put up, a little less than what Dave Buckey did and much better than what Scott Smith did (before that, you get back into Earle Edwards territory).

    Avery also had a pretty lengthy career in the CFL, something a helluva lot of NCSU QBs never accomplished.

  15. GoldenChain 05/13/2008 at 2:42 PM #

    “For you other old timers whose memory is less clouded than mine – was this the last home game of the year?”

    Was sitting on the 50yd line with my dad (who has gone on now). When it was 4th and 28 we thought the game was won, they got a 1st down with a few seconds left, my dad said, “If they get a few more yards they’ll try a field goal!”
    They ran one play then kicked.
    Yes you are correct, it was the last game of the year, can’t remember if it was homecoming or not (but, hey, I was a frat boy too so I might have at least been wearing a blazer).

    I never thought of Avery as being a bad QB. He was subject to the play calling and defensive breakdowns. 6-5 now gets you into a bowl.
    Back then we played Miami, Penn State, South Carolina, and ECU every year. ECU and SC were actually GOOD back then too, a very demanding schedule.

  16. Wolf Dog 05/13/2008 at 2:48 PM #

    Noah I don’t know about the racist stuff or why you were hanging out with Racists, but that’s your business. I would think most us don’t come here to discuss racism.

    I don’t think Tol Avery felt State Students and Fans were racist twoard him. I went to high school South Johnston High School) with Tol Avery, he was 2 years ahead me but graduated in same class with my older brother. I watched him play HS Football and college. His strenght was not passing. Personally I always thought he was a better basketball player than football. I am sure he would have been a better QB if he had a better coach. Tol Avery’s dad was a science teacher at the high school. The Avery’s very much valued an NC State education and Tol was a good student and a great guy. I never heard anything from his family about getting racist abuse or ever saying anything negative about NCSU. Don’t know what the point is of bringing it up here. Tol Avery was very fortunate to play football at NCSU considering I don’t think he won a game as the starting QB in high school. We were so bad that after Tol left they moved us down from 4A to 3A.

  17. Texpack 05/13/2008 at 3:08 PM #

    The PSU game was Homecoming that year.

    Tol Avery could overthrow a small country, that’s why people thought he was a bad QB. If not for Mike Quick his numbers would have been much worse. He also suffered from playing for Monte Kiffin. We were more penalty prone and undisciplined under Kiffin than during the worst years of CTC.

  18. Noah 05/13/2008 at 3:14 PM #

    Noah I don’t know about the racist stuff or why you were hanging out with Racists, but that’s your business.

    Well, the 20 or so grownups who insisted on standing up at every game after every play that didn’t go exactly as they thought and screamed at Avery sort of made it my business. I’ll let you take it up with them.

    I remember Avery as an excellent athlete who was a decent passer. Again, he played in the CFL for a long time. I’ve got a program from the State-Wake game from 1986 and it lists him as being on the Argonauts roster for that year. That’s a helluva lot more than most NCSU QBs not named Barnette (CFL), Rivers (NFL), or Kramer (NFL) did.

    All I’ve heard since Avery graduated (he’s a teacher down at SSS, I think) is how awful he was. Nope…the numbers don’t back that up.

    Preston Poag was a terrible QB. Cam Young was a terrible QB. Terry Harvey was a below-average QB (I think he still holds the single game record for INTs at seven). Jose Laureano was a terrible QB. Jay Davis was a below-average QB. Marcus Stone was a terrible QB. Daniel Evans is/was a terrible QB.

    The guy who came right after Avery, Tim Espisito, was average. Shane Montgomery was above average. Terry Jordan was good. Geoff Bender was average.

    Barnette, Rivers and Kramer, obviously were the cream of the crop.

    I think that’s every QB for the last 30 years.

  19. Noah 05/13/2008 at 3:15 PM #

    Tol Avery could overthrow a small country, that’s why people thought he was a bad QB.

    Thank you for proving my point. That’s simply historical revisionism.

  20. b 05/13/2008 at 3:15 PM #

    Oddly enough, I’m reminded of Bo Rein whenever the Michael Jackson song “Rock with you” is playing. I was very young at the time, 7 I think, and I heard the news early in the morning on the Radio. Right afterwards, and during the conversation with the parents about death, that song came on. And now I associate a happy dancy tune with tragedy and loss.

  21. packpower 05/13/2008 at 3:28 PM #

    There used to be a poster on the old Wolf Web who was connected to the program and swore that if Kiffin had stayed away from the offense, he would have been successful. Kiffin changed Offensive coaches between Tols’ junior and senior years so that wasn’t helpful to him.

    So does anyone remember who Tol won the job over? Ron Larraway didn’t burst onto the scene until 1981.

  22. Noah 05/13/2008 at 3:43 PM #

    BTW, someone brought up Tom Reed and his lunacy a little while back. My main memory of the Reed years was us dropping a game and him being completely unable to speak afterwards.

    He wasn’t so angry that he elected not to speak. He PHYSICALLY lost the ability to make words come out of his mouth.

  23. Old School Wolf 05/13/2008 at 3:44 PM #

    Bo was as good as they come-as a man and a coach. Had season bb tickets the winter/season the year Bo left. Had a 4 hour tround trip drive on game nights to talk Wolfpack stuff with my car pooling pack buddy. Seem to recall a game in Reynolds the night of Bo’s death. Definitely remember thinking how ironic the path of his final flight was that fatal night. Texpack is correct regarding the ground war that was Bo’s mantra. I think (from Bo speaking at a WP meeting) that Bo’s Master’s degree had something to do with the ratio of times the team with the highest yards rushing in a football game would be the victor.

  24. packpower 05/13/2008 at 4:27 PM #

    I think that Bo Rein died on a Thursday night/Friday morning. I think his wife continued to live in Cary for sometime after his death. Don’t know what ever happened to his widow and daughters but one of them was on the field in 1999 when the 1979 team was honored.

    Bo was definitely run first as I still remember the Scott Smith whirly birds.

    Someone mentioned Mike Nall – he could really hit.

  25. Classof89 05/13/2008 at 4:33 PM #

    Kiffin recruited some players who went on to play on Sunday, IIRC, but presided over a general downhill spiral in the program…remember, Reed went 3-8, 3-8, 3-8, with Kiffin’s players. I just remember us losing to Penn State 54-0 in either ’82 or ’81 (the first blowout of that magnitude in my memory–this was before FSU joined the league) and wondering how we had gone from losing 9-7 to losing 54-0 in three years…

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