“HOODOO! The Syracuse / Colgate Football Rivalry”

The HOODOO is Dead

This exhibition ran in the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center until January 2009.

From 1891 to 1961 Syracuse knew a rival greater than Penn State or West Virginia, so great that an entire weekend of festivities and tradition was devoted to the game with our neighbors two hours to the Southeast. This tradition was known as Colgate Weekend.

For students in the early 20th century, this weekend meant bonfires, school dances, wild parties, raids on the opposing team's campus, and a football game that was arguably the most anticipated of the season. It was known that any Syracuse student caught at Colgate trying to light their annual bonfire, or otherwise sabotage their chances of winning was apprehended and their hair was shaved into a "C". The same thing took place at Syracuse where unlucky Colgate students often returned to their campus with an "S' where their full head of hair used to be.

In the 70 years that the rivalry ensued, Syracuse won only 26 out of 62 games, with Colgate taking 31 and 5 being ties. Colgate dominated the first half of the rivalry with Syracuse prevailing in the latter years. Throughout the saga, games were not played in 1892, 1907, 1918 and 1943. From 1898 to 1901 there was a 4- year gap after a reporter took the field and tackled a Syracuse player during the 1897 game.

In 1907 when Syracuse's Archbold Stadium opened, a legend began, seemingly fortified by the 13-year losing streak that took place from 1925 to 1937. Legend has it that while the stadium was being constructed, a Colgate student snuck into the site and placed a varsity Maroon "C" sweater somewhere within the drying cement. This sweater gave way to the legend of the HOODOO. The word, a corruption of the word "voodoo", was used as a chant to psych out the Syracuse team and fans. Eventually Syracuse retorted with the chant "We Do" to diminish the effects of the so-called "Hoodoo", the invisible player that prevented Syracuse from winning and on some occasions kept them from scoring at all.

The word showed up everywhere, and was used in flyers dropped on the Syracuse campus by plane to psych out SU students, as well as in the annual poster contest. Every year Greek and residence houses on campus would erect giant placards with one unified theme "Beat Colgate". Tau Sigma Delta sponsored the event and awarded certificates to the houses with the best display.

The Syracuse University Archives has a collection of Colgate weekend photos, memorabilia, papers and correspondence interspersed throughout the football and photograph collections. This exhibit was also made possible through the generous contribution of artifacts, papers, and information on the rivalry, on loan from the Colgate University Archives.

~ Exhibition was curated by Hilary Galvin