In December of 1979, NC State hired Monte Kiffin to replace Bo Rein, who’d recently accepted the LSU head coaching. One thing I’d never heard before: Wolfpack players had stumped for Chuck Amato, who was an assistant on Rein’s staff. From Technician’s Dec. 7, 1979 edition:
It’s not at all difficult to imagine the players loving him, and at that point he was barely a decade removed from playing on State’s famous white shoes defense, so it would have been easy for him to command respect.
It’s fair to wonder how things might have turned out with Amato running the show rather than Kiffin—especially since Kiffin went just 16-17 with no bowl trips in three years at NC State. Chuck definitely didn’t lack for enthusiasm when he finally got his shot in Raleigh a couple decades later, and I’m sure he was a heck of a recruiter back in the day, too.
But Kiffin had a better pedigree at the time, with experience coaching at both Nebraska and Arkansas. Amato hadn’t been a college coach anywhere but NC State and probably they figured he was too risky. Would have been a great fit, though, as we know now.
Chuck wasn’t retained by Kiffin, despite those above remarks, but that worked out pretty well for the Chest, who landed at Florida State in 1982 after a couple of years at Arizona.
Something new I learned: Rip Torn once played Howard Hughes in a play. The above photo is from 1979, and here’s the caption:
Long white hair, outgrown fingernails, pills, dark rooms and tissues to keep away the dirt were among the descriptions of the life of billionaire Howard R. Hughes in his last years. Before his death, the reclusive Hughes was known to Americans more as an invisible fortune than as a real person. Hughes’s late years inspired playwright Sam Shepard to write “Seduced”, which opened at the American Place Theater here 2/1, starring Rip Torn as the white-bearded Hughes figure, called in the play Henry Hackamore.
Basically this is how I’m going to look in about a month, I figure. Might not take that long to get there, honestly.