Once upon a time, Maryland football’s offensive specialists were known as the ‘Hustlers.’ The defensive specialists, on the other hand, were known as the ‘Gangbusters.’ These nicknames were the result of a contest conducted by former head coach Tom Nugent and the Diamondback in May 1962. Nugent, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was an innovator, creating the now famous I-formation and the typewriter huddle (shown below). When Nugent departed Maryland in 1965, the nickname ‘Hustlers’ somehow traveled south–where it now resides at a Melbourne, Florida catholic school!!
Just how the nicknames got to Florida remains a mystery, however. The University Archives was contacted by Melbourne Central Catholic High School last year in an attempt to resolve the question. Coach Nugent created offensive and defensive specialists upon arriving at Maryland in 1959, as football was slowly moving away from having only two-way players, and he used nicknames to set groups of players apart.
After leaving Maryland in 1965 he never coached again, but he did retire to Florida and at one point even worked at a public relations firm in Melbourne. Perhaps he volunteered at the school, but no-one knows (he did teach grade school before coaching). The name could have been given by the school’s founding priest, himself a UM graduate. Or it could have been supplied by Nugent’s youngest daughter, who became a nun.
Whatever the answer, the nicknames didn’t last at Maryland–not even until the end of Coach Nugent’s tenure. Today, however, the Melbourne Central Catholic High Hustlers are quite popular, and competing schools love to trade t-shirts with their curiously-named opponents.