Until I looked it up today, I had forgotten what happened to the Commonwealth Challenge, the all-sports competition between Virginia and Virginia Tech that started in 2005-2006.
My impression was that Virginia had dominated the competition because of its continued success in non-revenue sports. I also thought that Tech’s non-revenue programs have been getting progressively stronger.
My research shows that a Commonwealth Challenge would have been hotly contested this year, but first to the reasons that it was dropped.
In a February 2008 interview, UVa athletic director Craig Littlepage noted that the Commonwealth Challenge was sponsored by the cable TV provider, Adelphia, which one year later was purchased by Comcast.
Comcast served as the “presenter” of the Commonwealth Challenge in 2006-2007 but did return as title sponsor the next year and none was pursued. There was no challenge.
The Hokies, in particular, were dealing with more serious matters in the spring of 2007 following the mass shootings on Tech’s campus in April.
“The University of Virginia made the decision that it was not a good thing to continue the Commonwealth Challenge in the short term,” Littlepage said at the time. “It was part of the sensitivity arising out of the events of last April.
“Now is not the time to be talking about bragging rights.”
VIRGINIA TOOK CLAIM of the Commonwealth Cup in 2006 by virtue of a 14 ½-7 ½ spread and retained it the next year 14-8.
Football and men’s basketball each represented two points and obviously there were some half-points involved.
Without checking the scoring system, I was struck recently by how keen the competition would have been this year.
Consider the following:
MEN’S SOCCER – UVa won 3-2
WOMEN’S SOCCER – UVa won 5-0
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY – Tech was 1st in ACC meet; UVa was second
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY – UVa was 6th in ACC meet; Tech was 10th
VOLLEYBALL – Tech won 3-0
FOOTBALL – Tech won 17-14
WRESTLING – Tech won twice, 25-6 and 21-9
WOMEN’S SWIMMING – UVa won dual meet 214-151
MEN’S SWIMMING – UVa won dual meet 214-151
MEN’S BASKETBALL – UVa won two games, 75-58 and 73-55
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – UVa won both games, 52-48 and 50-47
MEN’S INDOOR TRACK – Tech was 1st in ACC meet; UVa was 7th
WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK – UVa was 7th in ACC meet; Tech was 9th
MEN’S OUTDOOR TRACK – Tech was 2nd in ACC meet; UVa was 6th
WOMEN’S OUTDOOR TRACK – UVa was fourth in ACC meet; Tech was 7th
MEN’S TENNIS – UVa won 7-0
WOMEN’S TENNIS – UVa won 6-1
WOMEN’S LACROSSE – UVa won 10-5
BASEBALL – Tech won two games out of three
SOFTBALL – Tech won two games out of three
MEN’S GOLF – Tech tied for 2nd in ACC Tournament; UVa was 6th
There are four sports in which has varsity sports and Tech doesn’t: rowing, men’s lacrosse, women’s golf and field hockey.
In the other 21 sports, Virginia prevailed in 12 and Tech in nine I counted head-to-head match-ups when the teams competed head-to-head, but Tech could make a case for having beaten UVa in men’s swimming at the NCAA meet.
The Learfield Directors’ Cup awards points for NCAA showing, not head-to-head competition, and it should be interesting this year to see how the Hokies stack up against the Cavaliers, although UVa will score points in three of the four sports Tech doesn’t offer.
Whatever the case, a revival of the Commonwealth Challenge – or whatever you would call it – would not lack merit.