clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Know your enemy 2015: Virginia Cavaliers

"Greetings and death to our enemies." —Dan Aykroyd

Boise State travels all the way across the U.S. this week to take on a rare ACC foe. The Broncos have never met the Cavaliers on the field, but did dispatch their rivals back in 2010. No one knows what to think of this game, but it could be a glimpse into the future of Bronco football as the Rypien era begins in earnest. We previewed UVa we get to know them. Maybe these assorted facts will make the wait until kickoff go just a little faster.


Ten things you might not know about Virginia or their commonwealth casa

10) Virginia, also called "Old Dominion" is just a tad older than Idaho…by nearly 300 years. Of course, both areas were settled by natives thousands of years before colonists, explorers and settlers barged in, but Virginia’s Jamestown colony predated the formation of the United States by almost two centuries. The state, officially a "commonwealth", has been the focal point of sundry wars, battles and skirmishes throughout its complicated history…enough to push the importance of tonight’s matchup to at least 4th behind the French and Indian War, The American Revolution, and the Civil War.


"I did smite the king with mine spear and...gray...thing"

9) When you have a really old state, you often get a really old university…and that’s just what the University of Virginia can boast. It can also claim the distinction of being founded by an actual U.S. president (and a pretty memorable one at that)…so eat your heart out President University of Phoenix! In 1817, none other than Thomas Jefferson…along with presidential pals James Monroe and James Madison organized a little pub meet up to found themselves a university. It was at the Mountain Top Tavern that they agreed that a little spit of farmland in Charlottesville would be the perfect setting for a new university that would attract students to come and "drink of the cup of knowledge". Jefferson, a William and Mary grad, was dissatisfied by the way his alma mater had become "all churchy" (paraphrasing) and wanted a school that taught more than just medicine, law or divinity. Jefferson’s "progressive" vision allowed students to study in any of EIGHT schools—medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, and natural and moral philosophy. Classes commenced at the newly-formed institution in 1825, allowing Jefferson to realize his dream before he died the following year.


"Thanks for not mentioning my illegitimate kids"

8) The same year Jefferson shuffled off his mortal coil, a misunderstood emo kid named Edgar Allan Poe enrolled at the university and stayed for all of one semester before financial difficulties forced him to drop out. Poe enrolled at UVa to study ancient and modern languages, but in the school’s infancy students had to make their own housing arrangements and generally self-govern themselves and Poe didn’t really have the cash (on loan from his foster father) or self-discipline (he had large gambling debts) to make it work. Virginia shouldn’t feel too bad though…Poe just wasn’t cut out for school—he was expelled from West Point five years later. Of course, UVa still claims the famous poet despite his short stay in Charlottesville and The Raven Society (named after Poe’s most famous poem and least popular Thanksgiving meal) maintains the room he stayed in while attending the school. This may seem a bit of a stretch for the school to go out of their way to embrace a famous drop out, but don’t act like Boise State wouldn’t rename The Quad if Walt Whitman had played hacky sack there once or something.


Think of how much great literature was swimming around in that giant forehead.

7) Universities are always making revisions to their Honor Codes or codes of conduct based on emerging fads or to adapt when students find new ways to get into mischief. In the case of UVa, the very creation of their Honor Code was reportedly prompted by something a tad more serious. John A. G. Davis was a professor at UVa’s school of law in the early days of the university (and married to a great niece of Thomas Jefferson to boot) and was also chairman of the faculty. In 1840, two students—Joseph Semmes and William Kincaid—put on masks and took to creating a general uproar on the school’s lawn—shouting and firing guns to commemorate the student revolt of 1836 (another story for another time). Professor Davis came out of his residence to tell the youths to pipe down and as he tried to remove their masks to identify them, Semmes drew his pistol and shot Davis dead. The horror of the event allegedly prompted the students to seek better self-governance and relations with the faculty, in the end creating the University’s first Honor System. I haven’t had a peek at the school’s Honor Code, but assume that "do not kill professors" remains Rule 1A.

6) Virginia played their first year of football in 1888—a full century before the theatrical release of Ernest Saves Christmas. The coachless Virginia squad went 2-1 that first season defeating Pantops Academy and Alexandria Episcopal before dropping their final game of the season to Johns Hopkins. UVa had mixed gridiron results and no coach for the first 5 years of competition before coach Johnny Poe (relation to Edgar Allan unknown) took the helm in 1893 and went 8-3. 6 of Poe’s 8 wins his first season were shutouts and one of them—a late November game against Virginia Military Institute—has the begs-to-be-investigated footnote that VMI "quit due to suspicions of a ‘fixed’ game". Virginia quite literally had a coaching carousel humming after Poe’s two-year stint for the next 30 years with no coach holding the reins for longer than 2 seasons except one—W. Rice Warren, who bookended WWI with 3 non-consecutive years as headman.

Finally, Virginia got some consistency in 1923 when coach Earle "Greasy" Neale (yes, that was his real nickname) took over and stayed for longer than an elephant gestates…six years to be exact. Neale, who apparently got his "greasy" moniker not from his elusiveness or his hygiene but because of a simple name-calling spat with a childhood chum, had a "meh" run at Virginia (28-22) before moving on to West Virginia. Neale is probably better remembered as the 2nd winningest coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles organization behind only Andy Reid (who I also call "Greasy" but for entirely different reasons).


Gettin' greasy with it.

5) As is our custom, we like to dig through the record books to find interesting gridiron outcomes for our Know your enemy honorees and wouldn’t you know it, Virginia has several on each end of the win-loss spectrum. For brevity’s sake, I’ll stick to the two most extreme examples. For the good/borderline cruel example, I’ll direct you to the 1890 matchup between UVa and Randolph-Macon. Remember, Virginia had only been competing for two years and had no coach—that didn’t stop them from flirting with a student honor code violation by destroying the visiting squad 136-0. I assume if the team did have a coach, he might have instructed them to quit beating the dead horse (which was Randolph-Macon’s mascot at the time). What could have so drawn the ire of the Virginia team that they would have crossed decency lines against Randolph-Macon? Well, in this rare instance we can look no further than one week earlier when they’d traveled to Baltimore to take on Princeton and were summarily humiliated 115-0. In fact, in the two previous games that Virginia had played in prior to Randolph-Macon (Pennsylvania and Princeton), they’d been outscored 187-0—and this was after a promising start to their season that saw them defeat Dickinson by the very reasonable score of 12-0. So, if you’ve ever heard the phrase "revenge is a dish best served cold"…forget that…you serve that dish up piping hot with a pair of tongs!

4) Although "Cavaliers" is the official nickname of University of Virginia athletics teams you might also hear them or their fanbase referred to as "Wahoos". This isn’t a typo. "Wahoos" is the UNofficial nickname for Virginia and is derived from a chant at the end of the university’s alma mater "Good Old Song". The verse in question, like most antiquated school songs, is really so much gibberish but it’s tradition so whatevs

Wah-hoo-wah, wah-hoo-wah! Uni-v, Virginia!

Hoo-rah-ray, hoo-rah-ray, ray, ray—UVA!

Penned by Poe himself, I say! To think, they were that close to being known as the "Hoo-Rah-Rays" (ray, ray).

3) Ex-president Woodrow Wilson was a Virginia alum, as were two Kennedy brothers (Robert and Ted), but forget all that for one minute because another ex-Cavalier made a larger contribution to society. Of course, I’m talking about pro wrestler Virgil, former personal assistant of "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. Several Virginia alums contributed to world diplomacy, none—except Virgil—can say they softened up Jake The Snake Roberts for Ted DiBiase.


"Anybody want a peanut?"

2) Lest you begin to believe "the South shall rise again" is a rally cry for UVa to win the ACC title outright, you should know that Virginia (Richmond, to be exact) was home to the capital of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War despite being not terribly...well...south. Towards the end of the war, Arlington, in fact, was chosen as the site for the national military cemetery because it was literally in the backyard of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. You can feel the spite in that move.

1) The University of Virginia is home to a secret society known as the Eli Banana Ribbon society...a name that they probably should have tried harder to keep a secret. The "EBR", let’s call it, was founded in 1878 and claims to be the oldest secret society at UVa (unless there’s an older but MUCH more secret one). I’ve read several accounts of the EBR and damned if I know what they actual do...but doggone it, they have a wacky name so keep up the good work, you loveable scamps.


Reeeeal secret, you guys.