Tuskegee head football coach and athletic director Reginald Ruffin said he received deaths over a social media post stating that Nick Saban and Alabama should possibly consider scheduling in-state games against FCS HBCU programs.
“To see those comments over what was misconstrued from my post — my post was not to suggest to coach (Saban), to tell coach or demand coach or tell him what to do,” Ruffin told HBCU Sports during a phone interview on Wednesday. “My post was something that someone asked me what I thought of the situation.”
Ruffin, who described himself as “a good friend” of Saban, suggested on Facebook in a post that since has been removed that the Crimson Tide play a rotating schedule among FCS HBCUs in the state of Alabama amid allegations by Saban that Jackson State and Texas A&M leveraged NIL deals to acquire recruits. The longtime HBCU coach said the post, which drew national media attention, mischaracterized his opinion.
“I grew up in the state,” said Ruffin, who was a standout defensive end and linebacker at North Alabama before jumping into coaching at Miles and Tuskegee. “I’m well aware of the tradition (of Alabama football) and what happens. I don’t do anything to cause any damage to anybody. It wasn’t about black or white. It was about opportunity.”
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.
But his larger point was that college athletic departments in Alabama should work toward eventually competing against each other similar to other states that house multiple Division I programs either at the FBS or FCS. That partnership, Ruffin said, will only strengthen all in-state institutions involved.
“I’m just serious about HBCUs having the opportunity to play schools in the state for the revenue and the tourism and just keeping money in the state,” he said. “I just pointed out that Alabama has not played an HBCU nor have they played North Alabama or those other (FCS) schools.”
All the fallout from his comments, including the death threats, will not deter Ruffin from speaking out on any subject, he said. Ruffin said he is not truly fearful that anyone would harm him over what was written on social media.
“I believe in the man upstairs,” he said. “If it’s my time, it’s my time. I’m not a person who treats people badly. I’ve got a great personality. I’m not going to change where I go or who I’m with. I’m not going to change.
“I’m going to put it out there if it needs to be said. The same people that have given me hell are the same people who won’t buy a $20 ticket to an HBCU game but will buy a $300 ticket to an Alabama or Auburn game. That’s what you’re dealing with. I’m not going to change who I am.”