Jan. 19, 2006
Tallahassee, Fla. –
(AP) _ Tom Nugent, who was credited with developing the I formation at Virginia Military Institute and later coached at Florida State and Maryland, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at a local nursing home, his family said. He was 92.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame for his innovations, Nugent was also 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 coach for 17 years, posting a 89-80-3 record before turning to broadcasting and public relations.
He was 19-18-2 at VMI from 1949-52. During his six years at Florida State in the mid-1950s, he also served as the school’s athletic director and coached ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso and actor Burt Reynolds.
“He put FSU on the map in the early years,” Reynolds said Thursday. “He was an innovator, who brought a whole new style of football with the I formation. I love him and I’ll miss him.”
Nugent led Florida State to a 34-28-1 record and two bowl games during his stay between 1953 and 1958 and coached the school’s first game against Florida.
In 1958, the Seminoles went 7-4 with a schedule that included four Southeastern Conference opponents. Florida State defeated Tennessee 10-0 at Knoxville.
Nugent took the Seminoles to their first New Year’s Day game in 1955 when they were defeated by Texas Western 47-20 at the Sun Bowl. In 1958, Florida State lost to Oklahoma State 15-6 at the Bluegrass Bowl in Louisville as a then-relatively obscure broadcaster named Howard Cosell did the game.
Nugent coached seven seasons at Maryland from 1959 through 1965, posting a 36-34 record.
After coaching, Nugent was a sports broadcaster, spending four years in the late 1960s with ABC at WPLG-TV in Miami. Nugent then did public relations work for several years, including a stint at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne in the 1970s.
Nugent was inducted into the halls of fame at Florida State and New York’s Ithaca College, where he won 10 letters in baseball, basketball, football and track.
A captain in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Nugent served as a fitness trainer for officers heading overseas, and later as a director of entertainment at a base in Missouri.
A native of Lawrence, Mass., Nugent began his coaching career at the high school level in Virginia before accepting his first college job at VMI in 1949.
Nugent’s wife of 61 years, Peg, died in 2002. He is survived by five sons, four daughters, 15 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
A memorial mass is scheduled at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Tallahassee at 4 p.m. Monday.