Fans of Alabama football are showing that, besides money, perhaps the biggest difference between HBCU sports fans and those of big college football programs is sanity.
Case-in-point: ‘Bama fans, no doubt hiding behind online aliases, have been harassing and sending death threats to Tuskegee University head football coach Reginald Ruffin after a now-deleted Facebook post. HBCUsports.com’s Kendrick Marshall first reported the threats.
Ruffin called out Alabama head coach Nick Saban, asking for his Crimson Tide team to schedule games every year against smaller, in-state rivals that belong to the NCAA’s FCS division. That includes Tuskegee, along with HBCU programs at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Jacksonville State and predominantly white institutions including Samford and North Alabama, Ruffin’s alma mater.
The most controversial thing about that statement is that those contests would likely be so-called “money games” that typically see overmatched, small programs traveling to get destroyed by college football juggernauts—uncompetitive contests only played for the purpose of giving the smaller school a needed payout in exchange for putting their players at risk.
But money games have been around for decades and Ruffin’s suggestion wasn’t a shot at Saban. That didn’t matter to the rabid fans that jumped in Ruffin’s DMs.
Ruffin said some of the feedback — mostly from Alabama supporters — claimed that he was “extorting money from the University of Alabama” and that he “don’t run coach.”
Another commenter suggested that Ruffin “just watch yourself, buddy.”
Ruffin said the intent of the message was only to provide perspective as someone involved in the college game. He went on to explain that he was also asked to detail his vision for the Tuskegee program over the next five to 10 years, which included working toward the goal of moving to the Division I level.
Last month, we told you how Saban accused Deion Sanders and his Jackson State football program and others of abusing the new “name, image and likeness” compensation rules to recruit star players who in the past might have been easy pickings for Alabama. Saban forgot to mention that big programs like his have long used money as a recruiting advantage over HBCU programs, whether from seven-figure broadcast deals or rich boosters willing to throw a little off-the-books cash at “unpaid” student athletes.
Saban was dead wrong in coming for Jackson State, yet nobody—at least not to the public’s knowledge—felt the need to threaten his life. HBCU fans may be enthusiastic about our alma maters but as a people, we’re not threatening your life for talking out your neck about our coaches.