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SU campus life provides you with a sense of belonging and an appreciation for the legacies you’ll inherit and continue. A few favorites are listed below. For more, check out the Traditions page from the Office of Student Activities.
The number 44 at Syracuse University is one of the most storied numbers ever associated with a college football program. Since 1954, 11 players have worn the number and three earned All-American honors. Those three – Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little – rank among the finest running backs ever to play the college game.
The University officially retired #44 on November 12, 2005, but the number 44 continues to mean much to SU and the surrounding community. A few years ago the university zip code was changed from 13210 to 13244. And in 1988, when the university changed phone systems, the exchange was changed from 423 to 443. Number 44 not only has come to represent greatness on the football field, it has become a part of the university’s and the community’s identity.
The Saltine Warrior, an Indian figure named Big Chief Bill Orange, was born in a hoax published in The Syracuse Orange Peel in October 1931. The remains of this 16th century Onondagan chief were supposedly found in the excavations for the new women’s gymnasium in 1928. In 1951, the Senior Class commissioned a statue of the Saltine Warrior to be placed near the discovery site. The students of the famous Croatian sculptor and SU faculty member, Ivan Mestrovic, competed for the honor. The winner was Louise Kaisch who arranged for a member of the Onondaga Nation to pose for her statue. The Saltine Warrior, cast in bronze, was moved several times, at last finding a resting place on the southeast corner of the quadrangle next to the Shaffer Art Building.
In the mid-1950’s, the father of a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brother owned a cheerleading camp. He made a Saltine Warrior costume for his son to wear at SU football games. Thus began a nearly forty-year tradition of Lambda Chi brothers serving as SU’s mascot.
In 1978, the members of a Native American student organization headed a protest against using the Saltine Warrior as an athletic mascot. Onondaga Nation Chief Oren Lyons, a 1958 alumnus and former SU lacrosse star, explained that it’s all in the presentation. “The thing that offended me when I was there was that guy running around like a nut. That’s derogatory.” (Daily Orange, March 23, 1976). The Saltine Warrior was subsequently sidelined and a contest for successor ensued.
Briefly in 1978 a Roman-style gladiator reigned over the sites of sports battles, but he was soon both laughed and booed off the fields. It was prophetic of his career that in his initial appearance the SU football team lost 28-0 in a contest against the Florida State Seminoles. In the following years, proposals and attempts at mascots included Egnaro the Troll, a Superman-like figure, and a man in an orange tuxedo.
By 1984, the search for a proper successor to the Warrior had become both widely known and somewhat desperate. Sports Illustrated described a parade of potential replacements for the beloved and fearsome Saltine mascot: the Dome Ranger (an insurance agent in an orange cowboy outfit and blue mask), Dome Eddie (a gnat-like figure in Orange sweats with Elton John glasses and an incandescent wig), the Beast from the East (an electric-green monster), and The Orange (a juiced-up, bumbling citrus fruit from which two legs protrude).
The first Orange costume was dubbed “Clyde” by the Lambda Chi Alpha brothers, and the second called “Woody”. In 1990 a third costume was being produced and needed a name. The cheerleaders were at Cheerleading Camp in Tennessee that summer and narrowed the field down to two potential names – Opie or Otto. Figuring the name Opie would lead to the inevitable rhyme with “dopey,” they settled on Otto. Later that fall word got out that the cheerleaders were calling the latest mascot costume Otto and the name stuck.
The issue of an official mascot came to a head in February 1995 when Chancellor Shaw appointed an 18-member committee of students, faculty and staff to recommend a logo and mascot, primarily in support of the athletic program. In the fall the Committee, which had narrowed the mascot possibilities to a wolf, lion or the unofficial Orange, recommended adopting a wolf as the University mascot. A successful campaign was organized by the students who act as the Orange, and in early December Chancellor Shaw named the Orange, popularly known as Otto, as the official Syracuse University mascot. Shaw stated that he was convinced that the majority opinion on and off campus favored the Orange, and that with the Orange the University retains a unique position in college athletics.
The Orange has prevailed to this day, as SU fans know well. The warm and wooly interior of The Orange’s costume is inhabited sequentially in any one year by two to six students who audition for the honor of entertaining SU fans.
How Orange was adopted as the color of Syracuse University was described in June 1940 at the 50th reunion of the class of 1890*. The chronicler was Frank J. Marion, the motion picture pioneer. Marion, a member of the class he said was responsible for the change from the colors pink and blue, recalled:
“At the end of our senior year Syracuse accepted the challenge of Hamilton College to a track meet and…a number of us went along to cheer our team. We wore high collars right up to our chins, cutaway coats, baggy trousers, and rolled-brim derby hats. On our canes we had ribbons of the college colors, pink and blue. Much to our surprise, we won the meet and on the train coming home from Utica we tried to ‘whoop it up.’ What kind of ‘whoopee’ can be made with pink and blue, the pale kind you use on babies’ what-do-you-call-thems? It just couldn’t be done! So on Monday morning a lot of us went to see the chancellor in his office and told him our tale of woe. Chancellor Sims was a kindly old gentleman, a real father to us all, and he was very sympathetic. He agreed that pink and blue were not very suitable colors.”
“Professor J. Scott Clark was named chairman of a committee to find new colors,” Marion said. “I recall that we seniors had a sneaking idea that we might put over the class colors, orange and olive green.” Professor Clark consulted Baird’s manual, then the authority on college matters, to see what combinations of orange had already been taken. Orange and blue were the most popular, but orange alone apparently was not claimed by any school and was Syracuse’s for the taking. It was adopted unanimously by the committee, the faculty, the Alumni Association, and finally the trustees.”
* Syracuse University, The Critical Years, v. 3, 1984, pp. 391-392. (Wilson, Galpin, Barck).
Syracuse University Seal
“Suos Cultores Scientia Coronat,” translated, means “Knowledge crowns those who seek her.” The University’s first seal was most likely adopted in 1871 (Alumni Records Annals, p. 24; Univ. Archives).
In 1945 Keith J. Kennedy designed another seal, which was executed by W. A. Dwiggins.
Use of the seal by those outside of the University should be discussed with Business Operations/Licensing, Auxiliary Services, 211 Steele Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse NY 13244. Phone: 315-443-1431.
SU Alma Mater
Where the vale of Onondaga
Meets the eastern sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
On her hilltop high.
Flag we love! Orange! Float for aye-
Old Syracuse, o’er thee,
Loyal be thy sons and daughters
To thy memory.
First installed in 1889 and renovated in 1981, the Crouse Chimes are rung at least twice a day and again on special occasions. John Crouse purchased the bells on May 25, 1889, from the Meneely Bell Company in Troy. For 54 years, the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity played them, including playing the Alma Mater at 5 p.m. every day.