2009 Monday Thoughts: Virginia, Part 1

some ways, what happened Saturday has become run-of-the-mill. The Hokies
defeated the Cavaliers for the tenth time in the last 11 games, and they did it
in convincing fashion, once they got cranked up. That wasn’t new. But about 24
hours later, Virginia dismissed their coach, Al Groh. That’s anything but
run-of-the-mill. Virginia has only had two different coaches in the last 28
seasons, and when they hire a new one, this rivalry will shift and redefine
itself yet again.

Before we get into discussions of the game, let’s delve into the meaning of
“10 out of 11.” In this 114-year-old rivalry, 10 out of 11 is not
unprecedented in its magnitude:

  • Virginia won the first eight games the teams played, from 1895-1904.
  • The Cavaliers again dominated from 1945-1952, going 8-1-1 against the
    Hokies. (This stretch of VT football futility may have cost the Hokies an
    invitation to the formation of the ACC in 1953.)
  • From 1953-1963, the Hokies won ten out of 11, and the form it took is just
    like this latest run: Tech won the first four, lost a game, then won six in
    a row. If you stretch things out a little and look at the period from
    1953-1966, the Hokies won 12 out of 14.
  • Virginia won five out of six from 1987-1992.
  • The Hokies have won ten of 11 from 1999-2009.

If the Hokies win next year in Blacksburg, that will make it 11 out of 12,
and that has never been done in the rivalry.

This last decade of dominance has defused any argument as to who owns the
rivalry; Virginia Tech does. I remember the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the
arguments over who was the dominant team. At that point in time, you could slice
and dice the history of the rivalry any way you needed to prove your point,
whether you were a Wahoo or a Hokie. Dialing up a winning record for your team
was just a question of parsing the years appropriately.