As the Maryland-Virginia rivalry nears end, a trip down memory lane

October 11, 2013

“…for it was he who caused the downfall of the Orange and Blue.”

And so concludes the first paragraph of the first Washington Post game story ever written about the Maryland-Virginia football rivalry, a series that will end on Saturday afternoon at Byrd Stadium with the 78th installment.

“KNODE ENOUGH TO DEFEAT VIRGINIA,” the headline from 1919 blared, referring to superstar Mike Knode, though the no-byline article doesn’t actually include first names.

It also refers to universities with the feminine subject pronoun, as in, “Maryland State registers a clean cut victory over Virginia today, 13 to 0, and incidentally served notice that when gridiron honors are to be distributed at the end of the 1919 season in the South Atlantic Division she is to be reckoned with.”

Henceforth, after she leaves the Atlantic Coast Conference for the Big Ten Conference beginning at the end of the 2014 school year, Maryland shall no longer schedule Virginia in football matches for the foreseeable future.

Its schedule, etched in contract through the 2019 season, exactly once century after the “midsummer heat played havoc” on her in the first battle that jolted a rivalry into existence, contains no mention of the Orange and Blue, and only one Atlantic Coast Conference team – Syracuse, the alma mater of Maryland’s headsetted leader. Randy Edsall.

“I think rivalry games are great,” Edsall said this week. “I think it adds to the experience of what college football is all about, and I think those are really good. As far as our future scheduling goes, again there’s going to be limited opportunities for us to be able to play a lot of different people based on the number of games we’ll be playing in the conference. Those are discussions I’m sure will take place between myself and [athletic director] Kevin [Anderson] as we move further down the road.”

Virginia Coach Mike London, whose Cavaliers journey to College Park with a record of 2 and 3 overall and 0 and 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, conveyed a similar sentiment. The Red and White and Black and Yellow Gold must play but nine Big Ten Conference games beginning in the 2016 season, with little room remaining for the scheduling of Virginia.

“No, there’s no stigma,” London said. “Just the fact that they are going into another conference and their first obligation will be their conference play, whether it’s eight- or nine-game conference schedules. I’m not in the mix of making that decision as far as how or when we play them.

“But again, to go on the premise that this may or could be the last time that we play them is something for the careers of these young men that we have right now, but you know, if it happens later on down the road, for the powers that be as far as the scheduling is concerned, then it happens.”

Maryland offensive lineman De’Onte Arnett, a brawny and loquacious mammoth man of six-feet four-inches and two-hundred and ninety-five pounds, will bid farewell to this competition with no tears shed.

“I mean it’s already been said, they think they’re better than us,” he said. “They have the lawn and all that hoopla and I mean they had Thomas Jefferson go to their school. That’s all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, we’ll work hard, people here at Maryland and I mean the school overall as an institution has become one of the top institutions worldwide. You can just tell by talking to somebody from Virginia that they think they’re a little bit better. And I mean, that’s not the case.”

Incidentally, consider notice served: De’Onte Arnett does not like Virginia. Neither does A.J. Francis. 

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · October 11, 2013