Know Your Syracuse Football Foe: Central Michigan

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Know your Syracuse Football Foe: Central Michigan

We go to a rare road game at a non-BCS (is that even a thing anymore?) Conference!




Central Michigan began as the Central Michigan Normal School in 1892, and it was the state's second "Normal School" (ie teacher's college). Most of the original class of 31 students was of high school age. The oldest building was Warriner Hall, which still exists. The school grew very quickly, and was integrated into the state university system by 1895 and graduated 1000 students in 1906. In the 1910s, new departments were added such as psychology, and in the 1920s the school began giving out liberal arts degrees. Prior to World War II, the Central Michigan Normal School changed its name to Central State Teachers' College and then to Central Michigan College of Education. In the 1950s, it began offering masters' degrees and the name changed again to Central Michigan College. In 1959 it adopted its current name of Central Michigan University. CMU established a biology station on Beaver Island and the student body increased to over 10,000 students, and new areas such as business were added.



Mount Pleasant, Michigan right smack in the middle of Michigan geographically, although more than half the state's population is to the south. In 1855 it was the site of a reservation for the Ojibwa people (they were a tribe of Chippewas), and whites soon moved in to start trade with them and were able to purchase discounted land. There was a big fire in 1875, and in 1879 a library opened. CMU was founded in 1892. In 1893, a boarding school was set up for Native Americans in Mount Pleasant, which closed 40 years later. In 2009, the native lives lost were commemorated. In 1928, oil was discovered and the city got rich from it.


CMU is the third largest school in Michigan, after the two B1G schools. It has more than 21,000 undergrads and about 6,500 grads. It is also the largest of the four "Directional Michigan" schools.

Currently there are eight schools: the College of Business Administration, the College of Communication and the Fine Arts, the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Science and Technology, the Herbert H. Grace and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions, the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Services, the College of Graduate Studies, and the College of Medicine. US News and World Reports currently ranks the school 190th nationally, with Forbes placing it in the low 600s.....not nice, Forbsie.

Notable Alumni




Hardly that many notable academics went to CMU. The one I found that I liked the best was C.W. Thornthwaite, a climatologist. One notable businessman was Jefferey R. Caponigro, who is CEO of a public relations firm that shares his name. There were quite a few journalists who went here, including disloyal idiot Dick Enberg. John Grogan, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the author of Marley and Me is an alum. So is CBS News anchor Lem Tucker. Lost fans may be happy to know that John Locke's actor went here. So did Jeff Daniels from the Newsroom. And he's our babealicious babe of CMU.



CMU's mascot is the Chippewa. They are the only school to use this mascot, not surprisingly. I don't know if there were other schools that used it prior to the Great Native American Mascot Purge of 1987 (I don't know if that's the year it happened but it's a cool year to have things named after), but CMU kept it with the blessing of the local Saginaw Chippewa tribe, which maintains a positive relationship with the school. The school had teams that were called the "Dragons" as early as 1925, and there was a lot of pageantry associated with the Dragon mascot. Soon, the school began looking for a somewhat more official mascot. Wildcats were chosen because they were a "brave animal fighting in the woods of Michigan" in 1927, but it was changed to the Bearcats quickly because no one ever saw a Bearcat. In 1941, the offensive line coach decided that the school should change its name to the Chippewas in order to associate the school with something local. The Chippewa river ran through Mount Pleasant and the yearbook was named the Chippewa. In the 1980s the Michigan Civil Rights Department (see? I got it close) recommended dropping the name, but the school instead partnered with the local Chippewa tribe to promote dignity to the mascot. All logos involving Native American symbolism were dropped in 1989 and the current C with the tails on it ("Flying C" it's called) began being used then (the previous logo was a block C with a feather in it). There was also a "CMU" block letter logo used in the 1990s.

CMU has no physical mascot out of respect for the Chippewa tribe. However, students sometimes make their own costumes, most of which result in them getting kicked out of the football stadium.

The school colors are maroon and gold, which it shares with 15 other schools. Other Division 1 FBS schools include Arizona State, Boston College, Louisiana-Monroe, Minnesota, and Texas State. The only other Division 1 school to use this color scheme is Elon. Other schools with the scheme include Armstrong Athletic State (GA), Bates, Bridgewater College (VA), Minnesota-Duluth, Rhode Island College, and the University of Charleston (WV).


You'll notice the toning down of Native American imagery in the helmets in 1989, including a logo of a stereotypical Native American and an arrow in the helmet. Since then they've been using maroon helmets with a gold logo, and sometimes no logo at all.

The fight song of CMU is called "The Fighting Chippewa." So they get rid of the feathers and the arrows, but they still keep the "Fighting Chippewa" song. That seems a little weird, especially since if I were Chippewa I'd find a song called "Fighting Chippewa" more offensive than a C with a feather in it, but that's just me. :p

FIGHT, Central down the field, FIGHT for victory, FIGHT, fellows never yield; We're with you, oh varsity.
Onward with banners bold, to our colors we'll be true, FIGHT for Maroon and Gold, Down the field for C. M. U.

Varsity! Rah! Rah! Victory! Rah! Rah!
CHIPPEWA, we're proud of that nickname.
Hear our song loud and strong,
CENTRAL is going to win this game!

Come on and FIGHT, Central down the field, FIGHT for victory, FIGHT, fellows never yield; We're with you, oh varsity. Onward with banners bold, to our colors we'll be true, FIGHT for Maroon and Gold, Down the field for C. M. U.



CMU competes in the MAC in all sports, and has competed there ever since going Division 1 in 1975; before this they competed in the Division 2 Interstate Collegiate Athletic Conference.

CMU football has surprisingly a very high all-time record which sits at .600 currently. Ten years ago they won more games than the almighty Texas A&M. Since joining the MAC, they have won six conference titles, more than any other current MAC team. They have a strong tradition of producing offensive line products. But in there D-2 days, they compiled a whopping .750 win percentage under "Wild Bill" Kelly. He was followed by Roy Kramer, who posed a similar percentage and won the D-2 national championship the year before going D-1. CMU is 3-4 in bowl games, winning the 2006 Motor City Bowl over Middle Tennessee State, the 2009 GMAC bowl over Troy, and the 2012 Little Caesars Bowl over Western Kentucky. They lost the 1990 California Bowl to San Jose State, the 1994 Las Vegas Bowl to UNLV, and the 2007-2008 Motor City Bowls to Purdue and Florida Atlantic. They began play in 1896 and currently play at Kelly-Shorts Stadium. They are currently coached by Dan Enos, who is struggling. Their previous two coaches went on to Cincinnati: Brian Kelly and Butch Jones.

One notable game was in 1991, when they were struggling in their opening two games including a tie to Ohio and a squeaky win over FCS Southwestern Louisiana, they went into East Lansing and won big over Michigan State, which was ranked 18th at the time.

Notable alumni include offensive line teammates from CMU: Joe Staley, Eric Ghiaciuc, Adam Kieft, Drew Mormino, Andrew Hartline, and Tory Humphrey. Other notables include Steelers WR Antonio Brown.



CMU basketball doesn't have much of a history, sadly, although they've been playing since 1904. They're coached by Providence reject Keno Davis and have only made four NCAA tournaments: 1975, 1977, 1987, and 2003, the latter two by virtue of winning the MAC tournament. They also won the regular season in 1979 and 2001. Unfortunately there aren't any notable alumni. They play at McQuirk Arena.

CMU has a strong recent tradition in wrestling. They're coached by Tom Borelli, who won 13 MAC championships during his 22 team period and had a team with all ten wrestlers qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

Sadly, CMU has no lacrosse team.


CMU's primary rival is fellow Directional Michigan school Western Michigan. These games always pack a crowd in both football and basketball, and CMU beat WMU in their first MAC game. CMU also upset WMU when they were last and first in their division respectively in 2000. The winner of the game receives the Cannon Trophy, and also is an important game in the Michigan MAC Trophy, which CMU has won 4 times in football and twice in basketball.


I don't want to be a pessimist, but we need to do a lot better this time around. If we go back to what we're good at (running the football) we win. If we continue with the bubble screens and missed tackles, we'll get blown out. I'll go out on a whim and say we make our tackles but are stuck in the bubble screens. We eke out a 17-14 win. GO ORANGE!