HOME ~ College Football History
In 1963, the University mascot became a bare-faced
horseback rider in Cavalier garb. Both the horse and rider were
furnished by the UVa Polo Club. However, the mounted Cavalier and his
horse parted company in 1974 with the
inception of AstroTurf at Scott
Stadium. From 1974 to 1982, the Cavalier performed on foot. The 'Hoo, an
orange-costumed mascot, made a brief appearance in 1983 but did not
capture the support of the student body. The costumed Cavalier with a
large character head debuted the following football season in 1984 and
has remained the official mascot of the University. The Cavalier
performs with the UVa cheerleaders at all football and men's and women's
basketball games as well as various other University-related and
athletic events. The Cavalier is selected from the student body through
open tryouts. The mounted Cavalier made its return in the Florida Citrus
Bowl at the end of the 1989 football season. Due to its instant
popularity, the Cavalier on horseback returned the following season on a
regular basis and continues to lead the Virginia football team onto the
field at the beginning of all home games.
Beta and Seal
Virginia's first mascot was a black-and-white mongrel dog named Beta,
who was cherished by the University community in the 1920s and '30s. The
canine was named after the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, which bought his
license at least once. Considered no less than a member of the student
body, Beta pursued a wide range of interests--from football to scholarly
discourse. He was welcomed at most University functions, including
dances, fraternity parties and lectures. He attended a course at Cabell
Hall about Plato so frequently that his name was called in the roll, at
which time he would bark out his presence. His most famous exploit came
after being left behind in Athens, Ga., following a UVa football game
with Georgia. It was not until two weeks later that a scratch was heard
at the back door of the Beta House, and a cold, ragged and hungry Beta
stood there. It is not known how he found his way home. As befitted a
dog of his stature, Beta enjoyed a great deal of notoriety. Hailed by
the University as the nation's "No. 1 college dog," he was mentioned on
a nationwide broadcast of the Pontiac radio show and appeared in Look
On April 6, 1939, Beta was hit by an automobile and had to be put to
sleep. An estimated one thousand students marched in the funeral
procession from the Beta House (now Delta Upsilon) to the University
Seal, a cross-eyed black mongrel mutt, continued the University's
tradition of dog mascots in the mid-1940s. His sleek coat of fur earned
him the name Seal, and he later became known as the "Great Seal of
The beloved mascot was allowed in UVa lecture halls and nearly
everywhere else around town. Even local restaurants with signs reading,
"No Dogs Allowed," wrote below in parentheses, "except Seal." He was fed
by different fraternities as well as the University Cafeteria and could
often be found at the home of the late Dr. Charles Frankel, a long-time
football team doctor at UVa.
Seal's claim to fame came in 1949 during halftime of the Pennsylvania
football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Wearing a blue blanket
embossed with a large orange "V," Seal walked from the 50-yard line to
the Pennsylvania sideline where the Penn cheerleaders had placed their
megaphones. The rest of the event was recounted as follows in the
Cavalier Daily: "Slowly he walked from midfield to the Quaker side.
Indifferently he inspected their cheerleading appurtenances. Eighty
thousand people watched with bated breath. Coolly, insolently, Seal
lifted a leg--the rest is history." Virginia went on to win its seventh
straight game of the season 26-14 and Seal later came to be known as
Caninus Megaphonus Pennsylvanus.
Seal was about 10 years old and suffering from an internal rupture when
a local veterinarian, Dr. W.B. White, put the "Great Seal of Virginia"
to sleep on December 11, 1953. Approximately 1,500 people joined the
funeral procession from the University Hospital to the University
Cemetery, where Seal was laid to rest beside Beta. No other canine has
since been accepted as the official mascot.
Orange and blue were adopted as the University of Virginia's official
athletic colors at a mass student meeting in 1888. UVa athletic teams
had previously worn silver gray and cardinal red, but those colors did
not stand out on muddy football fields, prompting a student movement to
One of the students attending the mass meeting was Allen Potts, a star
athlete who played on Virginia's first football team in 1888. Potts
showed up at the meeting wearing a navy blue-and-orange scarf that he
had acquired during a summer boating expedition at Oxford University.
Orange and blue were chosen as the official athletic colors after one of
Potts' fellow students pulled the scarf off Potts' neck and, waving it
to the crowd, yelled, "How will this do?"
Virginia's athletic teams have been accompanied by a
somewhat confusing array of nicknames. The most prominent and widely
accepted of these monikers are "Cavaliers," "Wahoos" and "Hoos,"
although "V-men," "Virginians" and "Old Dominion" also have been used to
refer to UVa athletic teams through the years.
Although the terms "Cavaliers," "Wahoos" and "Hoos" are used almost
interchangeably to refer to University teams and players, "Cavaliers" is
more often used by the media, while "Wahoos" and "Hoos" are frequently
used by Virginia students and fans.
Legend has it that Washington & Lee baseball fans dubbed the Virginia
players "Wahoos" during the fiercely contested rivalry that existed
between the two in-state schools in the 1890s. By 1940, "Wahoos" was in
general use around Grounds to denote University students or events
relating to them. The abbreviated "Hoos" sprang up later in student
newspapers and has gained growing popularity in recent years.
In 1923, the college newspaper, College Topics, held a contest to choose
an official alma mater and fight song. John Albert Morrow, Class of '23,
won the alma mater contest with "Virginia, Hail All Hail," while "The
Cavalier Song," written by Lawrence Haywood Lee, Jr., Class of '24, with
music by Fulton Lewis, Jr., Class of '25, was chosen the best fight
song. Although both songs failed to become part of University tradition,
"The Cavalier Song" inspired the nickname "Cavaliers."