Syracuse University Mascot: Otto the Orange

Syracuse University, Otto the Orange header

Syracuse University

Syracuse University came into being at the Methodist State Convention in 1870 when a resolution was passed to establish a university in Syracuse, New York. However, contrary to popular belief, the school’s history does not trace back to Genesee College – a university that attempted to relocate to Syracuse previously. SU athletic teams, now often referred to as “The Orange,” partake in 18 intercollegiate sports. As well, ’Cuse is currently a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and has appeared in a total of 25 bowl games – laying claim to 15 victories.

But what’s a victory without fans cheering you on? With this in mind, the university has enlisted a mascot capable of bringing out the true fans in students, faculty, and alumni alike. Let’s take a look at how Otto the Orange has evolved since his inception and transformed the way ’Cuse fans support their student athletes.

Otto the Orange

When Syracuse debuted its original school colors – pea green and rose pink – in 1872, it was a fashion nightmare! The colors were quickly change to pink and azure following a swift and disapproving reaction from the student body. However, it wasn’t until 1890 that dedicated alumni changed the official color to orange, which would go untouched for over a century.

Where’s Otto?! #bleedorange ????????

A photo posted by Otto Orange (@theottoorange) on

Otto the Orange is currently responsible for instilling the ’Cuse spirit into all fans at sporting events. Before Otto was born, though, a few other characters represented the Syracuse fandom.  Vita the Goat served as the school’s first mascot in the 1920s but was later replaced when The Syracuse Orange Peel gave birth to a new hoax – the Saltine Warrior. The new figure was a Native American named Big Chief Bill Orange whose story revolved around a myth that Native American remains had been unearthed from beneath Steele Hall. Decades later, the Saltine Warrior witnessed his demise as Native American protesters saw an end to the derogatory mascot, ultimately ushering in the era of The Orange until 1990.

Word has it that members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity initially dubbed the first costume “Clyde” and the second costume “Woody.” However, the third costume to be produced still needed a name. That summer, while at a cheerleading camp in Tennessee, Syracuse cheerleaders coined it “Otto.” Later that fall, Otto would become a household name and, in 1995, became the official school mascot by Chancellor Shaw.

If you’re looking to cheer alongside Otto the Orange at the next SU home game, you’re going to need to come prepared. Head over to for all of your orange wants and needs! 




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