In the 1960s, Maryland hired one of its most innovative and eccentric coaches of all-time, head football coach Tom Nugent. Nugent was a master promoter and showman, always looking for new ways to draw fans and attention to his Maryland Terrapins. For the 1964 season, one such idea was to turn his kicker into a “human scoreboard.” Nugent, who originally asked the ACC if his kicker could wear a question mark instead of a number, hatched the idea when he was told all players would need a number on their jersey.
Not that Bernardo “Chile Bean” Bramson, the Terps’ kicker, necessarily needed extra attention. Being from Chile, an unusual origin for a Terp, was one thing. Being a soccer-style kicker, which was also a very new concept to football, was another. Now here was Coach Nugent, with the idea of changing the kicker’s jersey number–every time he scored! Bramson had never seen an American football game before arriving on campus on a soccer scholarship. He was quickly recruited to football, where he stayed during his entire time in College Park, temporarily surrendering his soccer career but also playing on the Terps tennis squad in the spring.
At the beginning of the 1964 season, Bramson’s number was 0. But once he kicked his first field goal, he was no. 3. The players on the sidelines “changed” his number during games by putting tape on his jersey in the shape of the correct numbers. By season’s end, he was “wearing” number 44–the number of points he’d scored all year. Bramson’s nine field goals in 1964 were school and ACC records, and were third-most in the nation. He also garnered an appearance on one of television’s most famous game shows, appearing before the panel on “To Tell The Truth” in December 1964.
The process was repeated in 1965, Nugent’s final season as head coach. But Bramson tired of the attention, and when Lou Saban left the NFL ranks to coach the Terps in 1966, he approached Saban and asked for a number. Saban, confused by the request, said he already had one, to which Bramson was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying, “No, I want to keep the same one. No more changing.” Saban acquiesced, and Bramson spent his final season in College Park as number 3, leaving school as the most prolific (and certainly the most famous) kicker in Maryland history. Bramson would also return to his first love, playing on the 1966 men’s soccer team as well (when football allowed, of course).