Hubbard has a 48-11-2 record at A&M, the best among the 38 Division I-AA coaches. Despite his achievements, he believes A&M football has not gotten as much recognition as it deserves—partly, he says, because of racism. "We're just victims of the way life is," he says. "What happens at Florida A&M parallels the plight of blacks in general, people not getting due recognition and yet performing. I don't care what anybody says, it's a form of racism. It's not going to keep us from executing, but it's a problem that hits us directly in the face.
"You can see it by the kind of stadium we have. Bragg Stadium at A&M is state-appropriated and so is Doak Campbell, but there is a lot of difference between the two [Campbell seats 34,213 more people than Bragg, whose capacity is 13,200]. The business support is lacking; people make money from our fans, then go run and hide. I can even see it in the media. Most of the media that cover us, if they cover us at all, send out their rookies to learn at our place. We've helped a lot of announcers and writers get started."
As the Miami game neared, Hubbard said, "I don't think this game is a yardstick of our program. We shouldn't have to prove ourselves anymore."
Although Hubbard downplayed its significance, A&M fans and Hurricane Coach Howard Schnellenberger, the former Baltimore Colts coach who is in the first year of a rebuilding program at Miami, felt the game had special significance for A&M. "It'll be the pivotal game for them this season," Schnellenberger said early in the week. "It will give them credibility."
Perhaps more than Schnellenberger counted on. The Rattlers were held inside their 30-yard line on their first two possessions. The Hurricane's Dan Miller kicked a 47-yard field goal and Miami soon followed with a drive to the A&M 13-yard line. But Rattler Cornerback Donald Shockley intercepted a Mike Rodrique pass in the end zone. Six plays later A&M's starting Quarterback Sammy Knight broke a lace in his shoulder pads and had to be spelled for one play. Hubbard sent in Sophomore Eric Truvillon, who took the snap from center and was off on a 38-yard scoring run.
Early in the second quarter Miami fought back, with Miller kicking a 22-yard field goal, and got a go-ahead opportunity when Middle Guard Jim Burt intercepted a pass on the Rattler 28 and returned it to the 20. Five plays later Halfback Lorenzo Roan ran in from one yard out for a touchdown. Miller added the point. However, just before the end of the half, Knight, who gained 100 yards on 30 carries, tied the game with a nine-yard scoring run.
Ironically, Knight and a few of his teammates were ignored by Miami recruiters when they graduated from high school. "Some of us they never bothered to talk to," says A&M Lineman Kenny Parker, who played high school ball in Miami. "Some of the other guys, like me, they said were too small. But A&M showed interest, and Ruby Hubbard had confidence in us."
The score remained tied until A&M's Vince Coleman kicked a 34-yard field goal with 3:49 left. But with 0:49 to go, Miami drove to first and goal at the Rattler three. Roan was stopped for no gain on the next play, and two passes were batted down by linemen. "We've been doing that for three years," said Tackle Algie Hendrieth, who swatted away the second pass. "No one said much in the huddle. Your pride has to come from within."
Miami's Miller tried a 20-yard field goal with 0:27 remaining. The kick was wide left and the 34,743 fans, most of them A&M supporters, began the party. They streamed onto the field while A&M players hugged each other and danced. Some wept in joy.
When the field was cleared and the final seconds were run off to end the game, Hubbard and his team huddled under the goalpost near the scoreboard. The coach hugged Knight, then knelt with his team for a prayer before he was hoisted on his players' backs, and there, riding in a sea of orange helmets and raised black fists, he disappeared down the field, a man in search of another corner to stampede around.