The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Changes for the worse

In 2006, after 10 years I was thrilled to be able to return to Charlottesville in the fall as a new season ticket holder. Even then, I could see the changes. The small differences that made Virginia football a unique experience. Fewer blazers, ties and sundresses in the student section. The Pep Band was long gone, replaced by a new marching band that only seemed to know a couple songs. There were gleaming new sky boxes, and the mountains were no longer visible from the south end. Luckily, the “hill” was still there, though I later learned plans to replace it with soulless stands were scrapped only after substantial protest.
Fast forward to 2008. Had we not been so thoroughly destroyed by USC, I might have thought I was in Blacksburg, not Charlottesville. Arriving at the John Paul Jones Arena parking lot, I found the arena — the crown jewel of our new athletic facilities ­— had been rented to USC for a pep rally! After two more games with lackluster results (only 16-0 against Richmond?), I have come to the conclusion that Groh and Littlepage have succeeded in changing the football experience at Virginia. And in the process have taken away much of what was fun.
Virginia football was a unique experience among Division I schools — more akin to the Ivies than the State U’s. What other Division I school could claim among its starting line a nuclear engineer? If we won, great. If we lost, well, that was okay too, since the other school’s students — we joked — would “work for us.” But through it all, it was fun.
It does not seem a coincidence the Virginia Student Aid Foundation dropped the word “student” when it was reconstituted as the Virginia Athletics Foundation. In the pursuit of more money, something was bound to be lost. So, congratulations, Craig Littlepage and Al Groh — you have succeeded in changing the Virginia football experience. Just not for the better in this alum’s opinion.
And our football team is still losing.
Gregory  Morris
CLAS ‘96