William and Mary and VMI get together Saturday for the 88th time, in a series that dates back to 1905. It's the Tribe's second-oldest rivalry, behind only Richmond.
The two teams played 65 consecutive years, from 1944 to 2008 inclusive, taking a one-year hiatus in '09 for VMI scheduling concerns. In short, it's a game that both schools want to play.
Does a rivalry that's become non-competitive bear continuing?
"I still think it bears playing," W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said, "because of the tradition that's involved, and in-state and both on the same level, so far as FCS. We'd like to continue playing."
The Keydets have had seven different head coaches since they last defeated W&M in 1985 (bonus points if you can name the VMI quarterback who engineered the last win). The school also changed leagues, moving from its longtime home in the Southern Conference to the Big South, which provided greater scheduling flexibility along with the opportunity to better compete.
"I think it's an in-state team that we've been playing for a long, long time," Laycock said. "I think that says a lot about tradition. I think both schools honor tradition a whole lot, in a lot of areas, and I think this would be one of them."
Tribe players are only peripherally aware of the streak and the one-sided nature of the rivalry.
"Each year is completely different," defensive tackle Harold Robertson said. "You still have to prepare. You can't go strictly on tradition because anything can happen."
In some ways, the streak has taken on a life of its own and provides motivation.
"You don't want to be the team that loses and breaks the streak," tight end Alex Gottlieb said. Told that it was 24 in a row, he said, "You don't want to be the team that keeps it from going to 25."
And then there's the lingering disappointment of the Tribe's season-opening 40-3 loss to Virginia.
"I just think we're ready to play anyone," Gottlieb said. "We want to prove and show that we're a quality team."
Not much of a rivalry: W&M dominates series against VMI
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