Going into a top-25 matchup, the key to success is preparation. When you are forced to stay in a different state the night before a game, success can be harder to achieve for the visitors.
The University of Albany, ranked No. 19, traveled to Elon University this weekend to face off the No. 23 Phoenix. But things were a bit different than normal.
Following the passage of House Bill 2 in North Carolina earlier in the year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo implemented a nonessential travel ban to the Tar Heel state. After the repeal with House Bill 142, the ban remains in place, which prevented the team from traveling from the capital of New York to Elon.
With Albany being contractually obligated to play the game as a football-only member of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Great Danes stayed in South Boston, Virginia overnight in an effort to spend as little money in North Carolina as possible.
“We’re pleased that we’re able to honor the spirit of the governor’s executive order, and we’re excited to play another big game against a nationally ranked opponent,” said Pete Iorizzo, assistant athletic director for media relations for Albany football.
But after finishing the game scoreless, defeated by the Phoenix 6-0, Albany head coach Greg Gattuso disagreed with the scoreboard and claimed that it was a great game.
“It made no difference,” Gattuso said about staying in Virginia. “That would be taking credit away from Elon who did a great job. We got to give them credit for playing a great, emotionally hard-fought football game.”
“That is not something that the league was specifically involved in,” said CAA Commissioner Joey D’Antonio about the decision to stay in Virginia. “That was a matter between Albany and their administration. I’m certainly happy that it got worked out, certainly happy that the game was played, but I do not have a comment on how that all played out.”
Albany finished the game with 148 passing yards and 76 rushing yards, but were not able to put any points on the board. Moving forward, Gattuso needs to get his team into shape before traveling to Richmond next weekend for another CAA matchup.
“We do what we always do,” Gattuso said. “We’re going to get back to work and get ready for a tough road game ... next week against Richmond.”
It might be a while before the Phoenix welcomes back the Great Danes to Rhodes Stadium, since the 2018 schedule has not yet been announced.
“We are working on the 2018 schedule right now and we are hoping to have something out to our schools in the very near future,” D’Antonio said. “In a perfect world, our schedule would have already been out by now for 2018. You won’t see a flip flop of the schedule as we have been doing in the past because we’re now dealing with a brand new set of scheduling philosophies.”
With all the complications involved, it wouldn’t be surprising if SUNY Albany doesn’t travel to North Carolina again while the travel ban is still in place, but we will not know for sure until the official schedule is released.