Rattlers win first I-AA national championship

Florida A&M University’s football team won the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship in 1978.

The game was the inaugural championship for the division, which was the Rattlers’ only appearance.

The Rattlers defeated the University of Massachusetts 35-28 in front of more than 13,000 fans at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The championship is one of the greatest moments in FAMU sports history, along with the men’s basketball team making it to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and Althea Gibson winning her first Wimbledon in 1957.

Rudy Hubbard coached FAMU to an undefeated season in 1977.

The next year, Hubbard led the team to a championship in his fifth season coaching. His record was 44-11-2 during that span.


“I’ve been able to do some things to create a winning atmosphere,” said Hubbard, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.


The national championship team had many great players, such as Tyrone McGriff, Ike Williams and Albert Chester.

 All three players made memorable contributions and were named All-Americans.

“I think we went into it (the I-AA national championship) with a different expectation,” said McGriff, according to the Associated Press.

McGriff died in 2000 of a sudden heart attack.

Longtime FAMU sports coach Bobby Lang was a member of the national championship team’s coaching staff.

Lang coached football, cross country and track and field.

Lang was known for getting the best out of his athletes.  He coached at FAMU until 1981 and helped to build fortitude on the national championship team.

The 1978 national championship football team is one of the greatest teams FAMU has ever had and its legacy will never be forgotten.