Four times this year, and, well, every year, NU plays an out-of-conference opponent. The question arises: who are these guys? Some people only want to know who they are in a football sense, but, to truly understand our opponents on the gridiron, you have to know where they come from, so football strategy can wait. I plan on getting to know these universities a little bit better with posts on each college, mainly with info gleaned from their wikipedia pages.
Next on the Chopping Block: Syracuse
Where: Syracuse, New York. You figured that one out yourself, right? Syracuse is... somewhere upstate. To be honest, everything past Westchester is one big amorphous seal-shape blob: Buffalo is over on the left, Canada is up top, and there's a big river that's just about in the middle, and the rest of the state I'm not sure about. 'Cuse is up there, maybe near Canada. The Wikipedia has this helpful tidbit:
It is the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse"...
Hot as hell, you guys. 'Cuse grew up on the Erie Canal and went on to become a hotbed of manufacturing for companies like Carrier. Unfortunately, the canal went the way of silent films and babies dying of the croup, while Carrier now operates almost entirely from places that aren't Syracuse. This probably explains why you know a lot more about Syracuse, the university, than Syracuse, the city of over 100,000 residents. Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse, which serves as another excuse for me to post the Top Gun anthem.
Size: Syracuse has 14,201 undergraduates, or 1.685 Northwesterns.
Stadium: The Carrier Dome. At 49,250, the dome seats just about as many fans as Ryan Field, but at 33,000, its basketball capacity is the largest in the country. (The difference is one of them has a biiiig curtain covering all the seats that would have awful views.) The records for largest crowds at basketball games used to be routinely set in the building before it came sexy to put random regular season games and NCAA Final Fours in football stadiums with no biiiiiig curtain things. As everybody likes to point out, the dome is named after an air conditioning company but does not feature air conditioning. I have been to go watch people attempt to exit the dome via the stadium's non-revolving doors, as the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the dome often makes for hilarious whooshing fails at entering and exiting by drunk people.
Mascot: The Orange. Syracuse has politically corrected its mascot a few times to the point that their mascot is a friggin citrus fruit. First, Syracuse's teams were represented by some racist Indian mascots - which the Wikipedia points out were played by Lambda Chi brothers, so, y'know, In ZAX, I think - until 1979. In 1995, that was replaced by Otto, a friendly giant orange with arms, legs, a hat, and eyes. Also known as THE WORST ORANGE EATING EXPERIENCE EVER.
(You reach into the bowl of fruit and pick out the last orange. But this one is different. It has some appendages growing off the sides. You snap one off, before a high-pitched voice squeaks at you.)
Otto: Ow! Say there, buddy, why'd ya have to snap off m'arm!
(You look confusedly and notice the appendage you snapped off was a tiny, but fully formed, arm, complete with fingers and stuff.)
Otto: Didja see Jim Boeheim at the Olympics? Boy, can Jimmy sure coach, he sure can! Say, don't forget to take m'beanie off if you're gonna eat me! It's m'favorite Syracuse beanie, so Otto doesn't want you to eat it!
You: Shut up. You're an orange. I don't want you to talk to me.
Otto: Hey there, buddy old pal, no need to be a big ol' jerk to your pal Otto! If ya want to be sour all day, why don't you hang out with my good ol' pal, Lucy the Lemon! Say, bud, I wish I didn't have to look at the floor while you prepared to eat me!
You: Look? What do you mean... (you turn around the orange. On the other side, he has a pair of gigantic, puppy-esque eyes, staring back at you)
Otto: How's it hangin', chum!
You: Dammit. (You begin peel the orange.)
Otto: Hey, pal! Take it easy! That's m'skin you're flayAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHH AGHHH THE PAIN SWEET ORANGE JESUS, FORGIVE ME SWEET ORANGE JESUS THOUGH I HAVE SINNED AAAAAAAAGHHHH AHHHHHH AHHHHHHHH STOP PLEASE PLEASE STOP THE AGONY, AHHH THE AGON-
(You eat in silence.)
However, even as a giant anthropomorphic fruit paced the sidelines, Syracuse remained the Orangemen and Orangewomen until 2004, when the school desexed its team names. You could argue that "Orange" refers to a color, like the Harvard Crimson or something, but the fact that there's a jaunty piece of produce hopping up and down cheering on 'Cuse kind of does that argument in, the way I see it. So far as I can tell, Syracuse is the only team I can think of named after fruit, depending on whether you classify Ohio State's mascot as a fruit or a nut. From a culinary perspective, most people would consider the Buckeye a nut, but botanically speaking, it is the fruit of a buckeye tree. Either way, neither makes a good mascot, because they are inanimate objects dependent whose biological purpose is to be consumed, making them rather inadequate in any mascot death fights.
Mascot if I ran the school: I'd go back to the Orangemen and Orangewomen, so my fans didn't have to think about thousands of little tiny oranges having their very lifeblood literally squeezed out of them every time they have a mimosa with brunch.
Notable Alumni: For starters, Joe Biden. Syracuse, like NU, is known for its media program, meaning guys like Bob Costas and Mike Tirico went there. In the arts, we have Lou Reed - although I can't for the life of me picture Reed going to class - Dick Clark, and Aaron Sorkin, who learned how to talk to people while walking down a hallway at 'Cuse.
Difference between the amount of times Syracuse has been to the NCAA Tournament and the amount of times Northwestern has:35, including the 2003 National Championship with Carmelo Anthony. (And Gerry Macnamara, too, right?!?!?!?!) 'Cuse's basketball prowess since Jim Boeheim took the gig is too much to mention in a few sentences, so instead, let's just discuss the Syracuse basketball player of your choice. I nominate Demetris Nichols.
Elsewhere in Orange sports: Syracuse's men laxers are one of the most successful teams in the sport, with ten national championships, including a pair in 2008 and 2009. Northwestern took down the women's squad in the 2012 Championship game for their sixth title in seven years, so basically, Syracuse men's lacrosse should get on our level.