We all know Otto the Orange, the furry, lovable mascot of the Syracuse Orange. He has personified everything about the school's football team for the past eight years: courteous, soft, and harmless. With his floppy hat, white gloves, and cute nose, it's hard to imagine Otto as being anything other than a child's play toy.
In a Smoking Musket exclusive, we have delved deep into the dark, twisted past of Otto the Orange, uncovering a side of him that few remember and almost no one cares to admit.
Otto the Orange has not always led a life of compassion as he is presently known the Big East over. While it exists only in the notes of football historians and cold case specialists, Otto the Orange was once a brutal killer, known for torturing his victims before they ultimately met their end.
Otto the Orange in an undated photo recently uncovered by TSM. It is thought that this candid shot of Otto was taken shortly after Don McPherson leads a comeback 32-31 victory over the Mountaineers in 1987.
A quick sample:
1959: Otto leads Syracuse to an 11-0 record and a 24-13 victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Syracuse's first national championship is the result, and while coach Ben Schwartzwalder and Ernie Davis are generally credited for the victory, historians of Otto know better.
1964: Mary Meyer, a socialite from Washington, D.C., and close friend of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Shot to death on 12 October 1964 by an unknown assailant after finishing a painting and going for a walk. She was heard screaming for help by a mechanic on a nearby road who also heard two gunshots and saw an unidentified man standing over her body. The man was described as round, orange, and extremely menacing. The case remains unsolved.
1977: Otto begins a winning streak against the Mountaineers that would stretch until 1982, the Orange's longest against WVU. The 1979 contest was staged at old Giants Stadium, outside New York City. During the same time period, violent crime in NYC reached a near all-time high. Coincidence?
1986: Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden and the leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party was shot in the back while walking home from a cinema together with his wife shortly after 11 pm on 28 February 1986 in Stockolm, Sweden. Otto was known to be vacationing in the Syracuse sister-city of Tampere, Finland, less than 500 km away from the site of the murder. Otto's exact whereabouts that night are unknown.
1987: As mentioned above, Otto stages a late comeback against the Mountaineers in Syracuse, successfully converting the 2-point try to beat WVU 32-31 and completing an undefeated season. It's a crushing defeat for WVU, one that Otto and the Syracuse faithful remember fondly.
1992: Marvin Graves, quarterback of Syracuse, incites a brawl that leads to the ejection of key WVU players. Graves has not been heard from since, leading many leading historians to believe that Otto posed as Graves to better unleash his own brand of terror.
2002: Otto drops off the national radar. Much like BTK (the Wichita based serial killer who disappeared for over a decade) and Notre Dame (which hasn't been spotted since 1989), Otto simply went away. No warning, no tell-tale signs -- nothing. It would be eight years before any sign of him would surface again.
Otto training for his long-awaited resurgence. [via assets.espn.go.com]
2010: There have been increasing signs that Otto is back amongst us. Pictures of him training, unusual and unexpected victories, these are both signs of Otto reestablishing himself in the college football world. Will he be the murderous force that existed before? No one can really tell. Though, you can be sure, if Otto gets back to his old ways, he will be a force within the college football world.
And, for the sake of our children's health, we don't want that.