COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rudy Hubbard, who worked under legendary head coach Woody Hayes from 1968-73 and was the first African-American assistant coach at Ohio State, will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year as a member of the 2021 class. The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame announced its 2021 class on Monday.
Hubbard enters the Hall of Fame as a coach – along with Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops – and based on his accomplishments and achievements as head coach at Florida A&M University. He compiled an 83-48-3 record over 12 seasons while leading the Rattlers to the inaugural Division IAA national championship in 1978 along with consecutive black college football national championships in 1977 and 1978. Florida A&M remains the only HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) to have won the NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship. During Hubbard’s tenure, he led Florida A&M through its transition from Division II status to Division IAA. Originally an independent, Florida A&M joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1980.
The 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 7 alongside the 2020 Hall of Fame Class (the 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19), which includes former Buckeye Keith Byars among its enshrines.
An Ohio native, Hubbard is a Buckeye through and through. He grew up in Hubbard, Ohio where he was a great all-around athlete, earning letters in football, basketball and track while at Hubbard High School. At Ohio State, he played in all nine games as a junior and senior. As a senior in 1967, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and caught 13 passes. He saved his best game for last: in a 24-14 win over Michigan in 1967, Hubbard ran for 103 yards on 15 carries while scoring two touchdowns.
In the fall of 1968, Hayes hired Hubbard to join his staff as the “cadet” coach, meaning he would devote full-time work to the football team in the fall and then complete his degree in education during the winter quarter. After he did that, Hayes made him the team’s backfield coach for the 1969 season. Hubbard remained in that role for the rest of his time with the Buckeyes and also took on additional responsibilities with recruiting. He spent a total of nine years at Ohio State as a student-athlete and coach.
Hubbard’s biggest recruiting win was helping to land two-time Heisman Trophy-winning running back Archie Griffin. He coached Griffin for two years, in 1972 and 1973, before leaving to be the head coach at Florida A&M.
Following his time at Florida A&M, Hubbard had a four-year stint as the head coach at James S. Rickards High School in his current hometown of Tallahassee, Florida. He is now retired and still resides in Florida.