Tom Nugent walked into his first spring football practice at Maryland in 1959 and announced boldly, "Hi, I'm Tom Nugent and I hate West Virginia."
West Virginia was the Terrapins' first opponent that season, and Nugent wanted to let everybody know where he stood. Maryland won that game, 27-7.
"That was a pretty brash way to open up things," recalled Maryland receiver Gary Collins last night as he talked about the life of the former Terrapins football coach who died of congestive heart failure at 92 yesterday at a Tallahassee, Fla., nursing home.
"I wasn't one of his favorites," said Collins who went on to have a superb 10-year career with the Cleveland Browns and now lives in Hershey, Pa. "I was the quote 'star,' and I took the flak, which was OK when I look back on it. I was the top dog and I took the heat from my junior year on."
Former Maryland athletic director Jim Kehoe, who was the school's track and cross country coach at the time Nugent was football coach, said, "Tom Nugent was an outstanding coach in every phase of the game."
Nugent was Maryland's coach from 1959 to 1965, compiling a 36-34 record. He was known around the country for developing the I formation, but his legacy at Maryland is still very large, being the only football coach in the history of the school to beat Penn State.
Collins caught two touchdown passes that Nov. 4, 1961 afternoon in a 21-17 victory that still stands as the lone Terps victory over the Nittany Lions in a series that has been discontinued. Maryland does have a 13-13 tie with Penn State, coming in 1989 at Memorial Stadium under coach Joe Krivak.
That 1961 season was Nugent's best at Maryland. The Terps upset No. 7 Syracuse and finished 7-3 .
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame for his innovations, Nugent was credited with creating the "typewriter" huddle where players stood in two rows rather than a circle while plays were being called.
He was a head college football coach for 17 years, including six at Florida State and four at VMI, where he introduced the I formation. Nugent posted an 89-80-3 record before turning to broadcasting and public relations.