The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 125 of 139

124 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER Z ach Williams is an investigator, not a writer. He does, however, have the curiosity needed to find details and create appropriate narrative from it, even if his background is not as a natural storyteller. Williams grew up in Fayetteville as an NC State fan. He vividly remembers watching the Wolfpack's 1979 ACC cham- pionship team make a dramatic goal-line stand to win at Clemson and then beat Duke in the season finale. And he remem- bers the disappointment of the 9-7 loss to Penn State, the lack of a bowl game and the hollowness of how that season ended. More than anything, he remembers be- ing upset, the way only a teenager can be, when he heard that the Wolfpack's young coach, Bo Rein, was leaving Raleigh to become the head coach at LSU. Like all other Wolfpack faithful, he re- members being heartbroken and confused when he heard about the plane crash that killed Rein. The 40-minute flight from Shreveport to Baton Rouge went off course, soared to 40,000 feet, flew over North Carolina and Raleigh, and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia. Williams always wondered how and why such a thing could happen, depriving the 34-year-old Rein the opportunity to suc- ceed on the bigger, brighter stage of the Southeastern Conference, leading a pro- gram that had a legitimate shot of winning a national championship. "My goal was to just start interviewing people and see where this leads," noted Williams, who earned a political sci- ence degree and a master's degree from NC State, and spent 30 years as an SBI investigator. The end of his journey is Forty Minutes to Baton Rouge: The Story of Robert 'Bo' Rein, a 324-page self-published book about the life and tragic death of the offensive genius behind Lou Holtz's twin-veer option and at one time the youngest head football coach in America. Rein, a two-sport star athlete at Ohio State, is still a hero in his hometown of Niles, Ohio, where the future coach helped McKinley High School win back-to-back state championships. Williams visited Niles High School while researching his book, walking the grounds of Bo Rein Stadium, and visiting with Rein's childhood friends and younger brother Curtis Rein, who was a wide re- ceiver on Bo's Wolfpack football team. Rein was an All-American baseball player for the Buckeyes, but his minor league baseball career was derailed by a ruptured Achilles tendon. He helped lead OSU to a pair of College World Series appearances, including the school's only national title in 1966. After playing both minor league baseball and football, Rein turned his attention to coaching, hooking up with the Ohio native Holtz and coming to Raleigh in 1972 as part of his coaching staff. ■ PACK PAST Rein was an assistant coach for NC State under Lou Holtz from 1972-74, before serving as the offensive coordinator at Arkansas for one year and then returning to Raleigh as the head coach, a position he held from 1976-79. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS 'BO'S PLANE IS MISSING' Lifelong NC State Fan Zach Williams Investigates The Life And Tragic Death Of Former NC State Coach Bo Rein

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