- 1690: The Orangemen and Orangewomen of the Orange Institution parade around with their secret society mates once a year to commemorate the Catholic ass-kicking conquests of King William III of Orange.
- 1870: The Methodist State Convention produced Syracuse University. Contrary to some accounts SU was not related to Genesee College which operated until 1875.
- 1890: Don’t adjust your contrast, Syracuse really did rock pink and blue for twenty years (some describe it as pink and green, but that doesn’t match the school’s official account). Finally someone was disturbed enough to protest looking like Robert Kraft’s favorite shirt and tie combo, and decided even orange was more manly. Good call…Orange remains the school’s only official color, with blue as an unofficial compliment.
- 1920’s: The first victim on SU’s mascot rap sheet was Vita the Goat. She was probably more concerned with eating her pennant than wearing it.
- 1931: (photo: 1960) A student newspaper pulled a fast one and the “Saltine Warrior: Big Chief Bill Orange” was born. They claimed the remains of an Onondagan man were unearthed during campus construction. While that was a hoax, Bill Orange and the Saltine Warrior both appeared in fight songs written much earlier. Saltine Warrior is a combination of Syracuse’s nickname, Salt City, and it’s past as the center of the Iroquois Nation.
- 1978: What? These images, offensive?! A Native American student group protested the portrayal, led by alumnus Oren Lyons, a ‘Cuse lacrosse star who happened to be an actual Onondagan Chief. Talk about pulling rank…
- 1978-1984: Naturally, instead of attempting to offer a more acceptable “presentation,” the administration buckled and swapped the American Indian warrior in favor of a Roman one, an homage to the original Syracuse in Sicily. Ben Hur Jr. patrolled the sidelines for a couple of seasons, but his plunging popularity left a void filled by the likes of: Dome Ranger (middle), a superman-like character (right), the Abominable Orangeman, Egnaro the Troll (no picture, unfortunately), Dome Eddie, the Beast from the East, a man in an orange tuxedo, a penguin in an orange scarf and an orangutan.
- 1980: And yet, when this big, round, piece of citrus plopped onto the scene he somehow rose to the top of this dysfunctional mascot challenge, banishing the rest to the Island of Misfit Mascots.
- 1990: The cheerleaders grew tired of calling him “The Orange,” so they named him Otto.
- 1995: Thanks to the success of The Simpsons, the administration contracted the rare but serious “Otto Inferiority Complex,” and quickly gathered a committee to consider their options. They decided on a wolf for the official mascot, but the student body rebelled, forcing them to settle on Otto the Orange.
- 1997: Stuck with that citrus fruit for a symbol of school pride, the administration made the best of it and tried to put a devious face on its docile creature. Too bad the students once again disagreed, instead approving a docile face on a docile creature…pass the little, happy, orange pills, maaaaaan…
- 2004: (Note the growth spurt) In another case of political correctness when none was needed, Syracuse castrated the Orangemen, leaving just an Orange. Really? Was anybody going to confuse Otto with a Protestant from Northern Ireland? Backing down on a disrespectful portrayal of American Indians per the request of specific tribe you tried to represent: understandable. Going gender neutral with no apparent pressure from anyone: gutless.
RIVALS: The Orangemen used to get juiced up for Raiders and Nittany Lions, but now the Orange rolls up on Hoyas, Huskies, and Mountaineers on the court. He’s vulnerable to nearly everything off it, including: frost, juicers and competition from Clementine hybrids.
- Originality- (1.5) Pink would have been more original, but SU did make sure it followed up one unique color scheme with another (other schools had already chosen orange and something, but nobody had taken JUST orange). Then naming yourself after that color instead of screwing around with mascot-to-color-combos…simple, but somewhat original.
- Presentation- (1) The version preceding the current Otto is better because the legs match logo Otto’s stumps. The growth spurt just looks weird. But, overall, the orange looks like an orange. Congratulations…
- Authenticity- (0) I realize Otto is based on the color and not the fruit, but besides sunset there is nothing particularly orange about Upstate New York.
- Intimidation Factor- (0) Besides choking on his seeds or squirting juice into his opponent’s eye, Otto only strikes fear into the extremely fragile hearts of Chrysophobics. Talk about people who could use a drill sargeant for a therapist…
- Political Incorrectness- (0) The Orangemen lost all credibility when they went gender neutral. Had they at least attempted to modify the Saltine Warrior to meet the protestor’s grievances they could have salvaged some respect. The American Indian students said it was the mascot’s wild mannerisms that were offensive, not that he was portraying their ancestors. A toned down Onondagan Chief should have been attempted by a school which dominates in lacrosse, the modern version of baggattaway, popularized by the Iroquois Nation native to the university’s land.
- TOTAL- (2.5) I’ve actually grown slightly fond of that goofy piece of fruit, but I can’t forget because he is just an orange he’s at the bottom of the food chain in both the mascot world and the real one.