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Know your enemy 2017: University of Virginia

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Forgive the late hour of this week’s KYE. I was sick as a dog (perhaps two dogs) the last 24 hours and it’s hard to write in bed under a bunch of blankets. You know the drill. Let’s do this.

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 find 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 with 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) The Rotunda at the University of Virginia is kind of the symbol of the university and was designed by Thomas Jefferson himself as the architectural and academic heart of the University (he called it “the Academical Village”). This fact was not lost on professor William H. "Reddy" Echols who tried to save the Rotunda from fire in 1895 by any means necessary. By "any means necessary" I, of course, mean that he detonated roughly 100 pounds of dynamite to sever the link between the annex—where the fire started—and Rotunda, and thereby halt the flames from spreading to the famous domed structure. Hard to believe, but his "fight fire with dynamite" plan did not succeed and the Rotunda was eventually gutted by fire. Students did manage to save a life-size marble likeness of president Jefferson before the Rotunda was completely engulfed and Professor Echols might have salvaged a few sticks of his dynamite collection as well. Oh, and they rebuilt the Rotunda, obviously...but did not build a new annex or “fire-staging area”.

2) A former slave named Henry Martin is honored on UVA's campus to honor his years of service to the institution. Martin was born in 1826 at Monticello the very day that his would-be master Thomas Jefferson kicked the bucket and was later sold to the family of George Carr and freed. In 1847, UVA hired Martin as a janitor and the university's bell-ringer and he kept time at the university for the next 62 years. Didn't anyone own a watch?

1) If the name Walter Reed sounds familiar, it's probably because it’s affixed to the side of a rather prestigious medical center in Washington D.C. that was the flagship medical center for the U.S. Army for over 100 years. From 1909 to 2011, the hospital served army generals, members of Congress, and even presidents and is named after, get this...a guy named Walter Reed, who as you might have guessed is a UVA alum (as well as an alum of New York and Johns Hopkins University—overachiever).

Reed graduated from UVA at the ripe old age of 17 with a medical doctorate in 1869 and after passing through a few other hallowed halls ended up on the New York Board of Health until he became dissatisfied with urban life and joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1875. Reed was a heck of a surgeon, epidemiologist, educator, and medical investigator...but probably wouldn’t have landed his name on the sides of hospitals had he not unlocked the key to Typhoid and Yellow Fever, diseases that had been a real thorn in the side of the military during the Spanish-American War and the building of the Panama Canal. Reed’s research saved countless human lives but led to the still-unchecked slaughter of mosquitoes. Walter Reed General Hospital opened just 7 years after his death from appendicitis in 1902 (or by mosquito assassins) and has been the site of treatments and deaths of a whos-who of U.S. Military brass. Generals Pershing, MacArthur, Marshall, and Eisenhower all died at the once-famed treatment facility, and ironically it was also the death site of one Walter L. Reed...former US Army major general and inspector general of the Army—Walter Reed's son.

“I kills every mosquito I sees”