Following the 1979 season, Robert Edward Rein — famously known as Bo Rein — was hired by LSU as the new head football coach to replace Charles McClendon. However, a plane crash after a recruiting trip killed him and ended a tenure for the Tigers before it really ever started.
Rein was just 34 years old.
After a solid career at Ohio State University in both football and baseball, Bo Rein was drafted by the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Indians. He chose to play baseball, making it all the way to Triple-A, but an injury ended his career.
That’s when Lou Holtz, a former assistant for the Buckeyes under Woody Hayes, took the head coaching job at William & Mary in 1969 and offered Rein a job. He took it, and the rest is history.
Rein was an assistant coach for Holtz at William & Mary and North Carolina State before becoming the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.
Then, when Holtz left for the NFL in 1976, Rein became the youngest football head coach when he was hired back at NC State.
In four seasons in the position for the NC State Wolfpack, coach Bo Rein compiled a 27-18-1 record two bowl-game wins and an ACC Championship in 1979, his final season with the team.
At just 34 years old, he was a hot commodity across the country as programs were looking for their next head coach. But it was Louisiana State University that lured him away.
In November 1979, Rein became the 24th head coach in LSU football history following Charles McClendon, who is still the longest tenured coach in the program’s history. And while McClendon coached the most games in Tigers history, Rein coached the least since he never appeared on the sideline for a game.
Bo Rein Plane Crash
After a recruiting visit to Shreveport, Louisiana on January 10, 1980, Rein boarded a private plane for a short flight back to Baton Rouge. However, due to a storm, the flight was rerouted and something went terribly wrong.
The flight was supposed to land in under an hour, but the plane was tracked in North Carolina and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean from 41,000 feet, according to The Washington Post.
The Cessna 441 plane, and the bodies of Rein and pilot Lewis Benscotter, have never been found. The thought is the plane experienced depressurization due to the high altitude and led to everyone on board losing consciousness.
This tragedy just 42 days after Rein was named the head coach of the LSU Tigers.
LSU paid college tuition Rein’s children. Both Ohio State and NC State have player awards named in his honor for his inspiration and hard work.