Albany State football coach Mike White.
CHICAGO — Albany State football players got an experience of a lifetime last season when they played in the Circle City Classic against Kentucky State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
This year, the Rams are going a little more north and a little more historic.
The Rams will play Kentucky State in the 15th annual Chicago Football Classic at Soldier Field on Sept. 29, making one of the longest road trips in the history of the program.
“The players were very excited last year when we went to Indy where the Super Bowl was and where the Colts played, and I expect them to feel the same this year,” said ASU coach Mike White, who played against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field when he was a defensive lineman in the NFL three decades ago. “I think they will look forward to the trip. How we get there is a question I have been asked several times.”
Transportation was White’s biggest concern when the Rams played in Indianapolis last October, and he remained uneasy about it when talking about this year’s trip.
“Sitting in a seat with anybody — I don’t care if it’s a kicker — for that long is tough,” White said. “You can’t stretch out and get comfortable. ... From listening to those guys last year you have to make sure you are tired when we leave so you can sleep. (We tell them to) bring a good movie, a good pillow and make sure you don’t take an earlier nap.”
Last year’s trip was a 12-hour, overnight bus ride.
And even though the Rams came back for a 57-31 victory, White isn’t exactly excited about making an even longer trip. (A bus ride to Chicago would take approximately 15 hours).
“Last year’s trip was murder,” he said. “But I have been told we are flying this year.”
According to White, it will be the third-longest trip in the history of the ASU football program.
The farthest was to San Diego in 2002, while the second-longest was against Alabama A&M University at Eastern Michigan University in 1993 — and the Rams won both of those games.
Last year, Hampton overcame a 17-0 deficit to beat Alabama A&M, 21-20, in the Chicago Football Classic.
The announced attendance for last year’s game was 35,653.
Albany State and Kentucky State will be the first teams from their conference to play in the annual game at Soldier Field, which is the marquee event at the Chicago Football Classic.
According to the organization’s website, a pep rally will be held a day before the game. On game day, there will be a college fair, a high school battle of the bands, tailgating, a Greek step show and a college battle of the bands.
“I think for the kids and our program, it will be a good experience,” White said. “And it makes those trips really good when you win.”
Tickets will go on sale in the following weeks and will cost between $15-40.