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TIGER KICKOFF: 10 things you didn't know about Syracuse

Friday, November 16, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST

The Syracuse Orange are not a familiar opponent for Missouri, residing in the Big East conference in both football and basketball. However, both teams share the same record (5-5), and Syracuse's football team shares a lot in common with Missouri's lastest opponent, Tennessee. Lots of points, very few stops. Similarities and differences aside, though, here are 10 things you might not know about Missouri's Senior Day opponent, Syracuse.

10.Vice President Joe Biden was accused of plagiarism while attending Syracuse University’s College of Law in 1965. In a 15-page law review he wrote, it was found that five of the pages were taken directly from another text without citation or attribution. Initially, he received a failing grade in the class. Biden immediately wrote a letter to the faculty defending his actions. In the letter he said, “If I intended to cheat, would I have been so stupid?” Someone must have agreed with him because he was allowed to re-take the class; the failing grade was stricken from his records; and he earned a doctorate degree from the university in 1968. 

9. Syracuse University's Ernest S. Bird Library, the main library on campus, has seven levels that hold 2.3 million books, 11,500 periodicals, 45,000 feet of manuscripts and rare books, and a cafe. Because if you're going to go through all that literature, chances are at some point you're going to need coffee to stay awake.

8. The number 44 has a special place in Syracuse football history. The number has been worn by three All Americans through the years – Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. Brown went on to become perhaps the greatest running back in NFL history, while Davis was the first African-American to win a Heisman trophy. His life and career at Syracuse hit the big screen in the 2008 movie “The Express.” The number means so much, in fact, that Syracuse University’s zip code was recently changed from 13210 to 13244 to honor its place in the school’s history.

7. While the basketball, football and lacrosse teams have gained the most acclaim nationally in recent years, Syracuse’s first athletic team was actually a rowing team. The team had its inaugural season in 1873, three years after the school was founded, and still exists today.

6. Syracuse is sometimes called “Salt City” because of the salt reserves that have served as a source of industry there for centuries. Salt has been mined in Syracuse since 1784, and throughout the 19th century the majority of the United States’ salt came from Syracuse’s salt mines. Salt potatoes, or potatoes boiled in salt water until crispy, served as a bulk of a Syracuse salt worker’s daily diet and has been a staple in the New York area ever since.

5. The Carrier Dome, home to both Syracuse’s basketball and football teams, is the largest on-campus basketball arena in the country, with a capacity of 33,000 seats. Extra seats allow the capacity to be expanded to 49,262 for football games. That means the Carrier Dome holds nearly 18,000 more seats than Mizzou Arena does for basketball games and almost 22,000 fewer seats than Memorial Stadium does for football games.

4. While most people remember Donovan McNabb as being Syracuse’s star quarterback from 1995-98, he also played on the basketball team as a walk-on for two seasons. He played only sparingly and averaged 2.8 points per game in his career. Smartly, McNabb decided to stick with football, and he was drafted second overall in the 1999 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

3. Syracuse’s Onondaga Lake may look pretty from the outside, but in reality it is one of the most polluted lakes in the world. Human waste was needlessly dumped into the lake for years, and runoff from local power plants has left the surface water contaminated with mercury. Ice harvesting in the lake was banned in 1901; swimming was banned in 1940; and fishing was banned in 1970. So, for any tourists thinking about taking a dip in the murky waters of the Onondaga, here's a word of advice: don’t.

2. While Syracuse’s mascot is now “Otto the Orange,” it has had many faces through the years. The first mascot, “Big Chief Bill Orange,” was a Native American warrior based on the Onondagan tribe that settled in Syracuse in the 16th century. He lasted as the mascot until 1978, when the school ruled he was a derogatory symbol towards Native Americans. The university had a series of short-lived mascots – including a troll, a superhero and a man in an orange tuxedo – before settling on the walking, smiling orange in 1984.

1. The intersection of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue in Syracuse is home to the only upside down traffic light in the United States, where the green light is at the top and the red light is at the bottom. The light was first installed upside down as an accident in 1925, but the mostly Irish neighborhood liked that “Irish green” was above “British red.” Each time the local government turned the light the correct way, people in town would throw rocks at the light and break it, forcing the light to be replaced. Finally, in 1928 the local government relented, and the light has been upside down ever since.

 


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