North Carolina State

1972-77  Wolfpack 
(Authentic Reproduction)





Lou Holtz may not have looked like a “football guy”, performing magic tricks at speaking engagements and in front of his football teams, but he was recognized as a hard-driving coach who was rapidly moving up the ranks. A former Kent State player who was undersized and over enthusiastic, he served as an assistant at his alma mater before moving on to Iowa, William And Mary, UConn, South Carolina, and Ohio State. Under Woody Hayes, he was on a staff that produced a number of future head coaches and developed some of the best college football players of the era. He had a deceptive 13-20 record as William And Mary’s head coach, as he had taken over a program that needed reviving and did so, pushing the squad to a Southern Conference Championship. NC State had approached Holtz in June of 1971 after Edwards’ late resignation but it would have been unfair to bolt from W&M that close to the start of the season. However Holtz did take State’s head coaching offer on November 24, 1971 when the Wolfpack administration came around after Michaels’ interim season. Holtz first changed the base color of the State helmet to scarlet, adding a one-inch white center stripe. He placed a four-inch white block letter “S” on each side that was a bit thicker than the one used for the 1963 season. He then installed what he called a Twin-Veer Offense, something he developed at William And Mary and was immediately successful with it as the ’72  team set thirty-three school and eight ACC records in his first Wolfpack season. QB Bruce Shaw stepped up as a team leader and led the conference with 1763 total yards. RB’s Willie Burden and Murray State transfer Stan Fritts were All ACC, and Charley Young was outstanding running behind All Conference linemen Bill Yoest and Rick Druschel in the 8-3-1 season which included a huge 49-13 victory over favored West Virginia in the Peach Bowl. When Shaw broke his arm in pre-game practice, frosh David Buckey stepped in and was the Bowl game MVP. The defense was improved with All ACC DB Mike Stultz a shining light.


1973 had a lot of Wolfpack excitement as Holtz had captured the fancy of State supporters. The result included bon fire rallies to spur the team to greater effort and bon fire rallies by opponents who perhaps for the first time, viewed NC State as a viable and possibly consistent contender for the ACC crown. The Pack scored 100 points in their opening two games and with a very tough schedule went 9-3, won the ACC title, and beat Kansas in the Liberty Bowl. The rushing attack took center stage with Burden setting a school record 1014 yards on the ground and winning accolades as the ACC Player Of The Year. He moved on to a CFL Hall Of Fame career, named as Canada’s Outstanding Player in 1975 while setting a new CFL season rushing record. He later became a coach and teacher, and eventually, a full professor at Georgia Southern University. FB Fritts maintained his knack for scoring, often behind All American guard Yoest and tackle Rick Druschel who played for the Steelers in ’74. Roland Hooks became a terrific rushing alternative with 4.9 yards-per-carry average. Almost lost in the shuffle of excellent backs was Charley Young who was the Cowboys’ first-round draft choice and played a few seasons in Dallas. DB Stultz again was an All Conference choice. 1974 was another terrific season. Defeating Penn State and Arizona State while earning a tie with highly rated Houston in the Bluebonnet Bowl marked this 9-2-1 year as one that established Holtz as a top-notch nationally recognized coach. Fritts became the ACC all-time scoring leader and rushed for 1161 yards to set a new school record. QB Dave Buckey and twin brother Don made a feared pass-catch duo as the Pack won their first six games and Dave had 1616 total offensive yards for the season. Fritts and Hooks made for a punishing rushing duo with Fritts, named a Second Team All American going to the Bengals for two seasons and Hooks serving as a fine return man for Buffalo from ’76 through 1982. NG Tom Higgins and All ACC DB Mike Devine boosted the defense. QB Buckey was a 1975 All ACC pick, and he added Elijah Marshall who had seventeen yards per catch to the State arsenal. Ted Brown became the first freshman to ever make the All ACC team, rushing for 913 yards, 227 of them against Clemson. Buckey closed his career as the all-time NC State total offense leader with assistance from his brother Don, an All American, and TE Pat Hovance as targets and both of them were named to the All Conference squad. When Holtz left for the Jets at the end of the season, Don Buckey found employment with the Jets for the ’76 season. G Tom Serfass led up front and won All ACC honors.  The defense held well in all but two games behind the play of All ACC DB Ralph Stringer and NG Higgins. After a 13-10 loss to West Virginia in the Peach Bowl and a final record of 7-2-1, Holtz took his 33-12-3 record to New York to become the N.Y. Jets head coach in a disastrous move. Holtz found that he disliked the pro game, offered his resignation before the 1976 season was completed, and became the head coach at Arkansas where he reestablished his credentials as a winning collegiate coach. Tenure at Minnesota paved the way for great success and a National Championship at Notre Dame before he decided to retire. He came out of retirement to resurrect a dormant South Carolina program and in 2004, stepped from the sidelines for good, becoming a television analyst.


While NC State supporters mourned the loss of Holtz who in their eyes, had brought the Wolfpack into the mainstream of winning college football, a new coach was hired who it was assumed, would carry on the new tradition of success. Robert “Bo” Rein was a former Holtz assistant but only thirty years of age. He had been a High School All American in both football and baseball, as well as an outstanding basketball player at Ohio’s Niles McKinley High School and repeated his athletic success at Ohio State. He was an immediate starter at left halfback for Woody Hayes and the Buckeyes’ assistant Lou Holtz and led the team in receptions in both 1964 and ’65, and in rushing in 1966 when he had been chosen as a Second Team All American. He completed his Ohio State football career as their career receptions leader but was considered to be a better baseball player, leading the squad to two College World Series appearances and the National Championship in 1966. Pursuing a career in coaching, he worked under Holtz as an assistant, first at William And Mary and then at North Carolina State. He moved to an assistant’s position at Arkansas and was then tapped for the head coaching job at State. When the Pack dropped Rein’s debut game to Furman, there was immediate concern among the fans, made worse when it took until the ’76 season’s fifth game to notch a victory. A major impediment to winning and a drop to a disappointing 3-7-1 season were the fifty-two fumbles, especially the twenty-two that wound up in the hands of opponents! Sloppy play and penalties throughout the season in part offset the great performance of RB Ted Brown who rushed for 1088 yards and the 1459 totaled by QB John Evans. TE Elijah Marshall was a top receiver. With DT Bubba Green and versatile DB Richard Carter the defense had some bright moments, although the injured Ralph Stringer was sorely missed. Rein engineered a quick turnaround as State jumped to 7-4 in 1977 and then beat Iowa State in the Peach Bowl. Losing the opener to East Carolina had many fans concerned but the 5-1 start made up for that. Brown tallied a school rushing record of 251 yards against Penn State, and 1251 for the season. With QB Evans passing for 1357 and young Billy Ray Vickers augmenting the running attack, the offense was quite strong with an emerging offensive line. DB Carter was All Conference, and he and DB Mike Nall supplemented the play of linebacking duo Bill Cowher and Kyle Wescoe, who totaled 339 tackles between them, on an improved defense that gave up only 167 points.

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