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Too Much Information 2012: The Virginia Edition

Virginia Logo
Virginia Logo

Moving on to Week 2's opponent, Penn State will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to take on the Cavaliers. Did you know that the University of Virginia was conceived and designed by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson? If not you will now; that and a whole lot more of useless knowledge thanks to Too Much Information: the Virginia edition.


University of Virginia is a public research university established in 1819. The 2012 edition of U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Virginia as the 2nd best public university in the United States, and the overall 25th best university in the nation. Even though the university was the second largest in nation at the time, it remained open throughout the American Civil War. With the lone exception of a non-confrontational march through Charlottesville by General George Armstrong Custer in 1865, the university emerged unscathed even though Virginia was the state that saw more battles than any other.

About the University

We can't talk about Virginia university (or the state for that matter) without talking about Thomas Jefferson. Virginia was Jefferson's brainchild and it was quite the controversial idea. Jefferson's alma mater, the College of William & Mary, was like most colleges of the time; based on a religious stance with a lack of courses in science. So Jefferson set out to build an institution "based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." Adding even more controversy, Jefferson centered the university around a library instead of a church. Most American universities at the time were primarily functioning as seminaries for one particular religion or another. Jefferson even went as far as banning the teaching of Theology altogether to keep the separation of church and university, although today UVA does have a non-denominational chapel and maintains a strong Religious Studies department.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science opened in 1836, making it the first engineering school in the United States to be attached to a comprehensive university. Jefferson despised bureaucracy and originally decided the university would have no president but rather, this power was to be shared by a Rector and a Board of Visitors. Later in the 19th century though it became obvious this cumbersome arrangement was incapable of adequately handling the many administrative and fundraising tasks that had become necessary to support the growing University.


The athletes that compete in the University of Virginia's athletics program are known as Cavaliers, but are also called Wahoos or Hoos, based on the University's rallying cry "Wah-hoo-wah!" The mascot is a mounted swordsman and is a historical reference to the time when the Commonwealth of Virginia earned its nickname, the "Old Dominion." The Commonwealth was a hotbed of persons loyal to the English crown, called cavaliers in the days of the English Civil War and Interregnum.

The school colors were originally grey and cardinal red as a tribute to Confederate grey uniforms stained with Southern blood, but those colors did not show up very well on dirty football fields. In 1888 orange and navy blue were adopted as the schools official colors.

Football related data

Last Season: 8-5

Head coach Mike London turned around a 4-8 inaugural season to take ACC Coach of the Year honors in 2011. London's team became the first program in FBS history to win games at Miami and Florida State in the same season. The Cavaliers lost a tough 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl to Auburn 43-24.

In 1886 two graduate students, one from Princeton and one from Yale brought to Virginia, something that southern schools had never seen before: football (funny how that thing took off in the south). On November 13, 1887 Virginia played its first organized football game against Pantops Academy, a boys' school founded just up the road from the UVA Grounds. After playing to a scoreless tie, a rematch was scheduled for March 1888, and Virginia won 26-0.

Virginia plays in Scott Stadium which was built in October of 1931. Virginia's all-time bowl record is 7-11. The team has appeared in four consecutive bowl games twice in its history, once from 1994–1996, and the other from 2002-2005. They have no recognized national championships but have three conference championships (1908, 1989, 1995).

Famous Alumni

Of course we couldn't start any famous persons list of UVA without reiterating the fact that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe were part of the university. Astronauts Patrick G. Forrester, Karl G. Henize, Bill Nelson, and Kathryn C. Thornton were all UVA graduates. A personal favorite of mine, Phil Plait author of Bad Astronomy was a Cavalier. Edgar Allan Poe didn't graduate but attended Virginia. Tina Fey graduated from UVA, as did Rhonde and Tiki Barber.

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