View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Saturday, May 24, 2003
When you grow up watching Virginia sports, you get used to disappointment. Quickly. Usually not the Red Sox style, coming-from-two-runs-up-in-the-10th-to-lose, disappointment. More like the Chicago Cubs, 93rd-year-of-their-rebuilding-program, style of disappoinment. There is no next year. After each touchdown, the Tradition was for the student body to sing the "Good Old Song." Concerned that this happened infrequently enough that the students might forget the words, they printed them on the beer cups. I remember a regular-season game against Navy. The next day, the Post offered the following comfort to Cavalier fans:

It was such a beautiful day, it seemed a shame to mar it with a football game. Especially a Virgiania football game.

The Cavaliers, displaying their usual ineptitude in all phases of the game - except punting - dropped a 32-0 decision to a Navy team that must awaits a later weekend for a true test of its ability.

On the rare occasion that Virginia did make it to the Big Game, they usually made sure you got a good seat at the restaurant. They won the 1976 ACC tournament, and promptly lost to DePaul in the first round of the NCAA. The 1981 semifinal against Carolina was over at halftime. They were the last NCAA Division I-A team to go to a bowl game. In 1990, the rode a weak first-half schedule and a series of fluky losses by teams ranked ahead of them to a #1 football ranking for about 13 minutes and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. (This travesty later prompted a rule change by the NCAA.) In New Orleans, they blew a 20-point lead to Tennessee. The couldn't even lose right. When my dad was in school there, they tied Kansas's 27-game record losing streak in football. When they finally won, students were heard to ask the players why they couldn't go ahead and break the record.

Oh sure, they won a few soccer championships, but soccer, a game practically made for drinking, wasn't the most popular spectator sport.

The one exception was lacrosse. A game popular only east of the Appalachians (with the exception, curiously, of Colorado), Virginia was a lacrosse powerhouse. They won the 2nd NCAA lacrosse title against the soon-to-be-hated Johns Hopkins, and then proceeded, over the next 25 years, to lose 5 more title games, all of them in overtime, once in double overtime to, again, the Hated Hopkins. Of the 8 overtime title games, Virginia lost 5 of them, including 2 of the 3 double overtime games.

They have a chance to lose another one Monday. Today, they beat Maryland 14-4, while Hopkins took Syracuse apart, 19-8. Since every title since 1988, with the exception of one by Virginia and one by UNC went to either Princeton or Syracuse, it's kind of nice to see the lacrosse universe return to its natural order of things.

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