ASU NOTEBOOK: Alumni have mixed feelings about Rams, coach White

Albany State fans watch as the Rams play Morehouse Saturday during homecoming. (Staff photo: John Millikan)

Albany State fans watch as the Rams play Morehouse Saturday during homecoming. (Staff photo: John Millikan)

ALBANY — The direction of Albany State University’s football program received mixed reactions from its throng of fans who showed up for Saturday’s homecoming game against Morehouse.

Alumni and fans showed up to tailgate on campus hours before the Rams routed the Maroon Tigers to improve to 2-4 as they try to salvage thier season after their worst start in over a decade.

And even before the Rams’ best outing of the season, the team received positive reviews from many, including ASU fan William White of Lithonia.

“A lot of things can still happen,” White said as he relaxed outside his motorhome in the school parking lot.

“But I like what is happening. We especially like the camaraderie. I enjoy coming every year.”

But Rams coach Mike White drew the ire of others, including fan Charlie Johnson, an Albany State fan who retired from the Air Force in 1991.

Johnson said ASU needs new leadership for a football program that will miss the Division II playoffs for the second year in a row.

“We need to let him go on and retire,” Johnson said about White, who is in his 13th year as head coach and has a career record of 101-50. “If I was over the athletics, I would have let coach White go about three years ago. I’m not happy.”

Johnson arrived early for tailgating. While he enjoyed the ribs and fellowship, he contemplated staying in his tent outside the stadium.

“I’ve got tickets to the game, but I don’t know if I want to go,” he said. “I don’t know if I should go watch them or not.”

WEATHER NO PROBLEM: A light drizzle began several hours before the 2 p.m. kickoff. It didn’t seem to bother any of Albany State’s fans.

Bobby Woodford, a 1974 graduate from Twiggs County, sliced ribs from his grill as light rain fell.

“Everybody is in good spirits,” Woodford said. “This is what they want to do to (Saturday). If this was their job, they’d be like ‘No, it’s raining outside.’ As long as everybody is enjoying themselves, the weather don’t matter.”

Rain fell intermittently throughout the game and began falling heavier at halftime as the Marching Rams Show Band performed in front of umbrella-covered stands.

ASU NATION EVERYWHERE: The automobile tags on cars on the Albany State campus were as diverse as the car colors. The local following from area counties such as Worth, Terrell and Mitchell Counties were evident.

Many ASU alumni from metro Atlanta arrived earlier in the week to tailgate.

Alumni from as far away as Kansas City attended Saturday’s homecoming.

BIG PLAYS START GAME: Former Mitchell County standout Grover Stewart made an impact play on the first play of the game for the Rams, sacking Morehouse quarterback Joshua Harris for a 15-yard loss.

On offense, the Rams hit a big pass play on their first play when quarterback Frank Rivers hit Adrian Alexander on a 35-yard play. The catch helped set up the Rams’ first touchdown.

THIS AND THAT: Former Albany State graduate and Tifton native Travis Pratt sang the national anthem. The opera singer recently appeared on the NBC show America’s Got Talent. … Congressman Sanford Bishop, a Morehouse graduate, was in attendance on Saturday. He represents Georgia’s second congressional district, which includes Albany. … Saturday was the final homecoming for ASU President Dr. Everette J. Freeman, who announced his resignation earlier this week.