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Tuskegee head coach calls out Nick Saban, hints D1 move

Jimbo vs. Saban has drawn most of the attention, but Saban's comments last week also ruffled feathers at the HBCU level.

Nick Saban's Rant Heard 'Round the World has largely been covered as a Saban vs. Jimbo Fisher war, in large part because of Fisher's explosive comments the following day, as well as the fact that Jimbo is still talking.

But there's another front to this battle as well.

Saban also said Jackson State paid Travis Hunter $1 million to sign there and "bragged about it in the newspaper." That part was objectively untrue. Hunter, the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 class, may or may not have gotten $1 million to spurn Florida State and sign with Jackson State, but Jackson State has absolutely not bragged about it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“We ain’t got no money, we ain’t got no money,” Deion Sanders said back in December. 

Deion took offense for the same reason Jimbo did: implying players signed with their respective schools for money was an insult to their ability as recruiters. 

“You know what that is, that means we kicked your butt. We took what was ours, and now you’ve got to make an excuse why," he said.  "Ain’t nobody getting no million-and-a-half (dollars). I wouldn’t pay my son a million-and-a-half NIL (deal). How am I going to coach a guy that’s making more than me?”

Sanders wasn't the only HBCU head coach to have a problem with Saban's remarks. 

In a Facebook post uncovered by HBCU Gameday, Tuskegee head coach/AD Reginald Ruffin pointed out that Alabama has never played an in-state HBCU.

“Now Coach Saban just say you sorry in public and walk down to your AD’s Office and say ‘ “We need to play all the FCS HBCU in the state of Alabama because we are the only university in the state not playing the Alabama State’s or Alabama A&M’s in our great state,” Ruffin wrote.

He continued: “Now the AD for the University of Alabama and the Head Football Coach Nick Saban will be the best advocate for all FCS HBCUs in this state. Also the ADs at the FBS level in this state will rotate playing and pay guaranteed payday for men’s and women’s basketball with all the HBCUs at the FCS level. This will increase revenue for our HBCU institution in this state and increase the budgets big time for our program.”

We've been on this issue for years at FootballScoop. I'm not sure if this will make Coach Ruffin feel better or worse, but Bama isn't just ignoring its in-state HBCUs; the Tide has never played UAB, Troy, or South Alabama, either. (For the record, Auburn played Alabama A&M in 2012 and 2016, and Alabama State in 2018. The Tigers played UAB once, in 1996, and have never faced Troy or South Alabama.)

In 2022, Alabama faces Utah State, ULM and Austin Peay. Games against South Florida and Western Kentucky dot future schedules. The Tide's schedule for 2024 and beyond are largely up in the air due to reasons outside their control, but there will still be plenty of opportunity to play their in-state cousins.

Oh, and while Bama is making room for Alabama A&M and Alabama State, they should carve out some space for Division II Tuskegee, too.

“BTW you not going to leave Tuskegee University out of it," Tuskegee's first-year coach wrote, "because we are going D1 and yes I said it."

Okay then.