Tent city: Boeheimburg
Size: 5,000 (maximum capacity)
Notable chants: “Let’s Go Orange!”; “ Whose house? ‘Cuse House!”; “Who’s He?” “So What?”
Fun fact: Otto’s Army was born when a group of five students devised a list system for seat placement to Gerry McNamara’s last game.
Touted as one of the premier fan bases in college athletics, Otto’s Army makes its presence known through the number of fans attending games. The student section can reach a capacity as high as 5,000 people, a number that could surface during Saturday’s matchup with Duke.
But in the mind of Otto’s Army president Ben Glidden, some of the group’s best performances have been on the road.
“Some of my favorite memories of Otto’s Army are the trips to away games,” he said. “The students who go on the bus trips to games are some of the most committed.
“When you’re thrown into an opposing team’s arena or stadium, you’re put in an interesting position. Otto’s Army is always the loudest.”
As Otto’s Army prepares for its most amplified home game in recent memory, the chant of “Let’s Go Orange” will likely draw the attention of the expected record crowd of 35,446 in the Carrier Dome. While the cheer is simple in nature, it’s a message that connects with Syracuse fans across the country.
Glidden couldn’t help but find himself impressed with how he heard the chant in Miami while watching the game on television.
“That’s unbelievable,” Glidden said. “Can you imagine how great that must feel as a player or coach to know that you have fans backing you up even when you’re 1,400 miles from home? It’s amazing.”
Otto’s Army will have an opportunity to display why they are the best student section in collegiate athletics. A fan base that has received the reputation of obtaining such honor is the Cameron Crazies, the ruckus crowd at Duke basketball games.
Originated in 1986, they have a historical edge over the Syracuse fan base, which hasn’t even existed for a full decade.
But Glidden believes that Otto’s Army is the tougher student section by camping out for basketball games in frigid temperatures.
“The average high temperatures are 50 degrees in Durham, N.C. this time of year. That makes camping out easy,” Glidden said. “We camp in frigid temperatures, often below-zero temperatures. It shows how committed we are to the basketball team.”
Glidden says that Otto’s Army stands out because of the commitment to every sport at Syracuse University. While the Cameron Crazies are a basketball student section, Otto’s Army represents all sports.
“We have thousands of students at football games,” he said. “We pack the hill at soccer games. We’re out there supporting no matter what the sport is.”
Tent city: Krzyzewskiville
Notable cheers: “Let’s Go, Duke!”; “See Ya!”; “You let the whole Team Down!”
Fun fact: The Crazies are believed to be the creators of the “Air ball” chant often heard at games.
Population: 1,200 ravenous college students, many of who don blue wigs and face paint.
But when their beloved Duke Blue Devils take the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium, they go by their alter ego.
They become the Cameron Crazies. And they turn the intimate 9,314-seat gymnasium into a raucous bandbox.
“We have 20 percent of our student body out there jumping up and down in blue paint supporting a team,” Cameron Crazies head line monitor Gabrielle Hodgins said. “That’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty cool to be a part of.”
For the Crazies, the party begins outside the arena.
Because students are not guaranteed a seat inside Cameron, a campout in Krzyzewskiville is more often a necessity than an act of team spirit.
Luckily, the team and school do all they can to make the experience enjoyable. The Devils might organize a NERF gunfight or some other diversion, and school officials often reward campers with free pizza.
Then, the real fun happens inside the 74-year-old venue.
The Crazies approach every home game with ardent fervor, and their first duty is always their “homework.” While Hodgins moderates communications with the team prior to each game, the other line monitors dig up whatever dirt they can find on the Blue Devils’ opponent.
Once armed with an array of taunts and poster fodder, they tell the rest of the students to prepare for war.
When the ball is tipped, the directive is always the same.
Make noise. Lots of it.
Hodgins said there’s no better example than Duke’s comeback victory against hated rival North Carolina in 2011.
“ESPN documented that the inside of Cameron was as loud as a space ship taking off in the second half of that game,” she said. “It was nuts.”
Sometimes, though, opposing fans counter that it can get too crazy, and that the taunts cross the line. Hodgins disagreed and said much of the venom results from the program’s sustained success.
“If you go to a Maryland game, you’ll hear them say stuff like, ‘F**k Duke,’ but we would never do something like that,” Hodgins said. “Coach K has made it so clear to us that we’re there to support our team, not bring another team down.”
But that doesn’t mean the Crazies aren’t aware of their effect on opposing teams. They know they can make Cameron seem downright hellish.
“There’s a reason we’re a Top 10 venue to watch a game in,” she said. “Playing in Cameron is something you’re going to talk about for the rest of your life.”
Published on January 31, 2014 at 4:35 am