Albany State head football coach Mike White
ALBANY -- A handful of photographers gathered near Albany State coach Mike White as the final seconds ticked away in Saturday’s 34-13 win against Elizabeth City State.
With cameras and phones in hand, they waited for the Gatorade bath that traditionally comes with a 100th career victory -- which White earned at Albany State Coliseum in his fourth attempt at the elusive milestone.
The bath never came.
“We knew better,” ASU defensive lineman Arkeen Riley said with a grin. “I was here in 2010 when we gave him one after beating Fort Valley. He punished us for that. Whoever did it was running at 5:30 in the morning.”
The Rams and many others in attendance Saturday found plenty of other ways to honor White, who is in his 13th year as head coach at ASU and has helped shape the team into one of the best HBCU programs in the country.
In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, fans began waving signs congratulating White for his 100th win, and then as he was walking off the field Albany State president Everette J. Freeman handed White one of the signs.
“That’s the sign I kept,” White said. “(Freeman) told me congratulations and that he liked the way the team played (Saturday). They played a good game.”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak dating back to last season for the Rams (1-2), who outscored ECSU 28-13 in the second half to put the game away. After the final buzzer sounded the players trotted to midfield for post-game handshakes with the Vikings, but 10 yards past the sideline ASU senior running back Kareem Hess looked back over his shoulder and shouted back at White.
“Congrats, coach White!” Hess yelled.
It was the first of many compliments from players White would receive over the next few hours.
“It’s a blessing to get him No. 100,” offensive lineman Hakeem Lassiter said. “Coach White is a great coach and a great man, and I appreciate it to have him as my coach. Coach White taught me a lot that I have never seen. As a mentor, a person and a coach, I appreciate everything he has done for me.”
Sitting outside of his office after the game, White said the coaches and players throughout the last 13 years came to mind as he reflected on 100 wins.
“That’s a lot of wins to get to 100,” he said. “To reach that milestone is huge, and it’s nice to have that. I just wanted us to play better. I wanted that more than anything, and the 100th win had to come with it.”
White is now 100-46 in a career that has come with several other honors. He is a five-time SIAC Coach of the Year, has won multiple national HBCU Coach of the Year awards and was named the Division II Coach of the Year in 2004.
He’s made an impact on both the program and its players since starring as a freshman defensive lineman on the 1975 Albany State Rams and spending the majority of the next four decades associated with the team.
“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of something that is really great for coach White,” Riley said. “He is a good man.”
And as for the Gatorade bath?
“We will get him during practice someday,” Lassiter said. “But if we do that, it would be game over. He would have us up on that hill running. But that’s my coach. I love my coach.”