Stanford University

Syracuse University Orange Mascot Explained

Syracuse University, named after the city in upstate New York in which the main campus resides, is home to about 19,000 students at any point in time that will forever be linked to the lovable mascot Otto the Orange.

The manifestation of Otto, the plump round Orange shaped fellow with human characteristics, is a direct result of the Syracuse University nickname which has officially been the "Orange" since 2004. Even though the gender neutral nickname has only officially been in place since 2004 the former long held names were simple adaptions in the form of the Organgemen and the Orangewomen. The gender based nicknames are still used quite commonly today.

The source of the unique nickname the Orange is said to be based simply on the fact that the original school color was declared to be Orange in 1890, some twenty years after the school was founded. As strange as it may seem to simply make the nickname of a university the same as the official color of the school inquirers should consider that in an earlier era this was more commonplace. Making a college nickname synonymous with the school color happened with a great deal more regularity in past generations than is seen today. One prime example can be found on the opposite coast from Syracuse at Stanford University in California where the official nickname and mascot is simply the color Cardinal (not the bird or Catholic clergy member by the same name). Another example can be found in the metropolis of Dallas, Texas where the University of North Texas proudly proclaims on the exterior of its football stadium that it is home to the "Mean Green."

The evolution of Otto the Orange has its roots in a disproved campus legend and an olive branch extended to soften racial stereotypes. In 1931 Syracuse took up a Native American Warrior as its mascot after an article described a similar archeological find during an on campus dig. The Warrior quickly became the athletic mascot and even when the article describing the find was revealed to be a hoax the wheels were already in motion and the mascot continued to serve the university for another four decades. Four years after formally removing the Warrior mascot over Native American sensitivity concerns the fans adopted the cartoon looking giant Orange named Otto in 1982.

The name Otto was ultimately chosen over the alternative consideration of Opie the Orange due to fear that rival schools would resort to calling the lovable mascot with the large blue hat and blue pants "dopey" (a play on Opie). It would be another thirteen years after the inception of the giant Orange before Syracuse University would officially accept Otto the Orange as the official mascot in 1995 after Otto received a tremendous outcry of student support.

Follow us