The Rickards High School community said the hiring of Rudy Hubbard, former Florida A&M University head football coach (1977-1985), will bring a lot to its high school football program.
“He will be able to unify the community to get support for Rickards,” said Pink Hightower, RHS principal. “I think you’ll see more of the alumni.”
Roosevelt Wilson, former FAMU athletic director, said Hubbard will bring a lot of legitimacy to the program because he will make the best out of the players on and off the field.
Wilson added that Hubbard was the coach to start the tutoring program at FAMU.
“He was what you call a ‘player’s coach’. They liked him,” Wilson said. “He wanted them to be solid citizens as young men.”
Michael Smith, who played for Hubbard from 1981-1984, said Hubbard wanted to be successful on the field but not at the cost of the athletes’ grades.
Smith said the transfer of Hubbard’s wealth of knowledge from the college level to the high school level can be positive for everyone.
“(His coaching) really helped me to achieve some of my goals as I matriculated in college,” Smith said. “He didn’t want us just thinking that we were out there for football.”
Hubbard said one of the first things he wants the players to understand is the importance of education. He said the first assistant coach he has recruited is going to bring in people to help with the players’ academics.
“If they need help, we will try to get that for them,” Hubbard said.
While at FAMU, Hubbard won the 1977 Black College National Championship and the 1979 I-AA Division National Championship; he was fired in 1985 after two losing seasons. He is recorded as the second most successful coach at FAMU with an 83-48 record.
Hightower said this kind of experience contributed to the unanimous decision to hire Hubbard as the new Rickards coach, but it was also his leadership and maturity.
Hightower said RHS received about 45 applications, and there were many qualified candidates who applied for the coaching position. Charles Huff, former FAMU defensive coordinator and All-American defensive back, and Corey Fuller, former FSU and NFL defensive back, were among the lineup.
“All of the ones we interviewed were very much qualified applicants that could excel the program, but because of Hubbard’s experience he was the best choice,” Hightower said.
Hubbard said he feels like he is needed at RHS.
“I thought about it a lot before I decided to do it,” Hubbard said. “I just feel like it’s a program I can help out.”
Hubbard, who has not coached since 1985, said he is very thankful for the positive feedback from the community.
“I don’t know if there is any other school I feel like I’d feel (welcomed) like that,” he said.