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Who Would Win In a Fight — the Syracuse Orange or the Notre Dame Leprechaun?

Pat Rick DEEPLY investigates a question that apparently multiple people have about the Irish’s upcoming football game

Ali-Frazier.

Holyfield-Tyson.

Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Drago-Balboa.

Artest vs. Several Detroit Pistons Fans.

There have been some absolutely legendary, high-stakes fights in the history of sports — gods among men beating the shit out of each other simply for our entertainment, and also for the right to declare themselves the “champion” at what amounts to a physically impressive, but incredibly barbaric, talent.

Even in 2020, with everything we know about CTE and the long-lasting negative effects of sports that involve a lot of purposeful head-bashing, certain combat sports like boxing, MMA, etc. still maintain an impressive popularity amongst the American citizenry.

So much so, in fact, that when I asked Notre Dame Fighting Irish football fans to submit questions for me to ask my Syracuse counterparts at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, the only topic that more than one person requested I ask about was, you guessed it, about a fight.

Specifically, a mascot fight.

So, instead of asking John Cassillo to try to answer that in a paragraph or two, I figured there was obviously a lot more to unpack here, and there was a not-miniscule subset of the American public that would be interested in a more detailed investigation in this CRUCIAL topic:

GROUND RULES

Before we dive into this, though, we need to set some ground rules.

And no, I don’t mean for the fight. If you’re new here, there’s no way this conversation at One Foot Down would go any direction except “we’re going prison rules, folks — good luck.”

No, what I mean is simply defining who is actually fighting here, because mascot fight discussions can go off the rails quickly when pitting, say, the Marshall Thundering Herd against the Miami Hurricanes in a hypothetical fight between a herd of bison and a tropical storm.

So, I want to clarify right now, before we go any further: this is a fight between the two actual mascots, in costume, in character, but NOT as their actual characters “come to life.” They can do anything and use anything that they typically would have on-hand, but nothing more — no magic powers, no weapons that don’t belong with those costumes, etc.

Do we have that clear?

What did I just say??? C’mon, Watermelon Testani.

Okay, we’ve all got that out of our system, right? We’re clear on who is actually fighting in this scenario?

Okay, Tony is canceled — either because he didn’t read my tweet explaining what we’re doing here, or because his mind automatically went to cannibalism as the Leprechaun’s approach to the fight. Whatever the reason, sorry to one of my favorite Stanford Hall RAs of the 2010-2011 school year.

Alright, now that we’ve established who’s fighting, let’s really learn WHO is fighting.

IN THE ORANGE CORNER, WE HAVE...

OTTO THE ORANGE

NCAA Football: Florida State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 40 (unofficial); 25 (official)

APPROX. HEIGHT: 5’9” + another 6-12 inches of permanently-connected hat

APPROX. WEIGHT: Maybe 180-200 pounds + 20 pounds of plush orange material

FINISHING MOVE: The Dome Stomp — it can literally shake the Carrier Dome

WALK-OUT SONG: “We Will Rock You” by Queen (source)

STRENGTHS: Girth/circumference, plush padding around torso, a perpetually-unnerving smile, warmer costume for fighting in cold climates, hands protected by gloves

WEAKNESSES: Peripheral vision, reach, grip in a grappling situation due to wearing gloves, not being allowed on Japanese television due to number of fingers, his estranged relationship with his dad

FEARS: Claims to be afraid of nothing — but we all know he’s afraid of having his juice sucked out of him by a bird

Pretty impressive fighter, right?

Well, let’s meet his opponent — just as intimidating, just in different ways:

IN THE GREEN CORNER, WE HAVE...

THE NOTRE DAME LEPRECHAUN

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Nov 4, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; The Notre Dame Leprechaun cheers during the second quarter of the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

AGE: 60 (unofficial); 55 (official)

APPROX. HEIGHT: 5’10” + another 4-6 inches of removable green hat

APPROX. WEIGHT: Maybe 180-200 pounds + the weight of one wooden shillelagh

FINISHING MOVE: The Shillelagh Shmash

WALK-OUT SONG: “Here Come the Irish” by Cathy Richardson + “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

STRENGTHS: Mobility, acrobatics, bearded padding around chin, actually carries a weapon, can be shown on Japanese television with no problem

WEAKNESSES: Size, exposure to the elements, fighting bare-knuckled (which is badass but dangerous in terms of breaking a hand), rainbows/pots of gold

FEARS: the ND offense scoring more points than he can do push-ups

Breaking Down Advantages, Disadvantages, and Potential Strategies

Alright, so we’ve got two very different, very dangerous fighters, and I think we all have the same question on our minds: What would happen if these two rambunctious gentlemen/gentleoranges met in the ring?

To come to a sound conclusion in response to that question, I think we need to talk through these two fighters’ potential approaches to this fight, understanding what advantages and disadvantages they each bring to the battle.

So, with some help from all you lovely Tweeple who sent me your thoughts on Twitter, let’s try to gather all the necessary information we need to understand who has an advantage where, and then we can make an informed call as to how this fight is gonna go.

TOPIC 1: VISION AND MOBILITY

There’s no real question that Otto has a size advantage in this fight — it’s clear he does a lot of upper-body workouts and eats A LOT to cultivate mass above the waist, so one might think that would ultimately help him overpower the much more proportionate, but also smaller, Leprechaun.

However, having that kind of fuzzy heft protruding up-top is clearly a double-edged peeler— especially compared to an unburdened, light-as-a-feather Leprechaun with nothing covering his torso or face.

We’ve all seen the Leprechaun do backflips, participate in stunts with the cheerleading squad, easily hop up on that wall to do the Irish jig with the student section, etc. It’s so easy for him, he managed to find an opportunity to do something cool and acrobatic while briefly appearing on Regis and Kelly.

Otto, on the other 4-finger-gloved hand, does not have that ability — we’re talking about the guy whose Wikipedia page describes him as a “juiced-up, bumbling citrus fruit from which two legs protrude.”

You all drove this point home with me on Twitter, both in pointing out some potential vision problems for Otto...

And in very fairly calling into question Otto’s ability to fight nimbly/gracefully...

And I gotta say, y’all make some excellent points — I hadn’t really thought about it before, but 1) being able to see and 2) having the ability to move freely are two things that actually would help most people in a fight, believe it or not. This checks out.

I will note that Otto does have one undeniably skilled move, although it’s not super effective in combat.

Still, the guy can spin his face around 360 degrees as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. Also, side note: the Golden Gopher twisting its head around in that video was disturbing, to say the least. My God.

Nevertheless, this topic certainly skews toward the Leprechaun. He’s the winner in this category.

ADVANTAGE: ND LEPRECHAUN

TOPIC 2: Defensive Strategies

With the Leprechaun established as the fighter much more able to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge around his opponent and thus being more likely to be on the offensive while looking to disorient and tip over that brutish ball of belly, Otto the Orange will certainly be most likely of the two to have a more careful, reserved strategy focused on defense.

With a small, acrobatic guy in a vest flipping all around him, though, and with his arms and legs exposed and vulnerable, what would be Otto’s best chance at surviving all that agility and energy, considering he will have trouble seeing attacks coming and moving quickly enough to avoid/deflect body blows?

The answer, as we ALL know, is what’s come to be known around my apartment as “The Armadillo Defense.”

Private Twitter user @le_barger agreed with Yuri Collins fans account, saying, “Leprechaun swings away doing everything possible to break the impenetrable orange armor. This fails after a while and they must give up from exhaustion or risk death.”

It’s a very strong theory, as you’d have to imagine the plush peel around that pillowy person would provide some useful armor. However, there are some questions as to HOW impenetrable that Orange actually would be — Syracuse University was never asked to comment, but I got Yuri Collins fans account to do so:

With no clear conclusion here, it’s hard to say the Armadillo Defense would be a viable path to victory for Otto. Although it does open up some fun opportunities for how he could attack the Leprechaun, pulling his arms and legs inside the sphere and then rolling as quick as he can at his opponent, hoping to bowl him over or at least take out his legs.

I got our very own Brendan McAlinden to help me visualize this, by the way:

Anyway, what IS clear here is that it’s very possible this strategy extends the time Otto lasts in this fight, and perhaps even forces a draw or actually gains him the victory as the Leprechaun tires himself out trying in vain to hurt him.

Meanwhile, the Leprechaun has no real means of self-defense (I’m choosing to classify evasion tactics as Mobility and not Defense — deal with it). In fact, his outfit provides him a lot of disadvantages and potential safety hazards that could be used against him:

  1. His hat is not connected to his head like Otto’s is, and thus could come off mid-fight and leave the Leprechaun vulnerable to blows to the head, as well as to the dangers of excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays
  2. The tails of his jacket could give Otto something to grab hold of and yank, making it a liability in any type of tussle
  3. The Leprechaun’s tie could be easily turned against him, as Otto could certainly find a way to choke him with it. That’s simply not a smart choice of attire, no matter how snazzy it looks — it’s like a superhero wearing a cape

Wearing only his Leprechaun outfit and nothing made of sterner stuff to absorb any potential blows that the Orange is somehow able to accidentally land while flailing blindly within his own general vicinity, it’s impossible to award the advantage in “defense” to anyone except our portly prince of pulp.

ADVANTAGE: OTTO THE ORANGE

TOPIC 3: Weapons

As you might recall, we determined early on in this exercise that this fight has no actual rules when it comes to the style of combat taking place — the fighters can attack the opponent and defend themselves however they see fit, as long as it’s relevant to their typical costume. So, we need to dive into what these two could potentially conjure up as weapons, because Dwight Schrute taught us what to think of someone who only brings their bare hands to a fight:

So, do either of these two mascots typically have any items or objects in tow that they could potentially use to destroy the other?

People often forget, the ND Leprechaun sometimes carries around a “shillelagh.” And if you somehow are reading this but know literally nothing about Notre Dame or even about Ireland, a shillelagh is a wooden club/walking stick that essentially became the weapon of choice of Irish men in the 19th century for settling disputes via duel. So, yeah, you could say the ND Leprechaun is bringing a pretty perfect weapon to this fight, folks.

Shudder-inducing spelling aside, y’all are absolutely correct. The Leprechaun does often carry a shillelagh around, and having that blunt object with plenty of reach would be a MASSIVE advantage for him over an immobile, partially blind, short-armed, top-heavy ball of fuzz whose main tactic is retreating inside himself and hoping the Leprechaun gets tired of punching/kicking him.

Giving the Leprechaun that weapon would drastically increase the damage and pain he can inflict with each blow he delivers to Otto’s roly-poly impression, and so this really could swing things in the Leprechaun’s favor.

Unless...does Otto have a weapon he could use as well???

Sorry, folks — as much as I would LOVE to say that Otto’s “weapon” is having Mark Mangino as a tag-team partner, this is actually a picture of Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot and Otto’s reluctant father. Shout out to ND’s Leon Fart for reintroducing this image into my life and making my week, but this is a non-story here.

Aside from Mark Mangino, another potential weapon that was suggested for Otto came from @le_barger and his stupidly private account, as he inquired, “Does Otto have a t-shirt cannon filled with impenetrable oranges?”

Setting aside the concerning prospect of multiple people on Twitter thinking there’s something that exists called “impenetrable oranges,” I have to quickly dismiss this idea. I see no clear pattern or record of Otto regularly carrying a t-shirt cannon with him, and thus don’t see how we can allow that in this fight.

One note: based on a YouTube video titled “44 Questions with Otto the Orange,” Otto DOES often have a Razor scooter with him that he uses to ride around campus. My good friend Hux pointed out to me that that means he WILL hit you in the ankle with said scooter, so that could be considered a weapon for him if we really wanted to make a stretch-exception.

However, considering his physical limitations in his costume while trying to wield a Razor scooter against a very quick, evasive opponent, and also considering the Leprechaun’s weapon of choice being specifically designed to swing easily and inflict pain, I think we can still give this to the Leprechaun.

ADVANTAGE: ND LEPRECHAUN

TOPIC 4: Intangibles

We all know this is where a fight can be won or lost, and so it’s crucial that we understand what else these two fighters have going for them and how it could impact the battle.

So, let’s quickly run through those indefinable qualities of Leprechaun and Otto and see who’s got more going on in this department.

ND Leprechaun Intangibles

  • POSITIVE: Can use the (empty) threat of potential magic powers to intimidate and/or force Otto to at least hesitate, especially if Otto sort of believes in Leprechauns
  • POSITIVE: Kelly Ripa confirmed for all of us that the Leprechaun is “cute,” and that amount of cuteness could be a distraction for Otto
  • NEGATIVE: If the Leprechaun gets too into character, he may get distracted during the fight if there’s a rainbow in the sky and he thinks he should pursue the gold at the end of it instead of staying in the fight

Otto the Orange Intangibles*

*many of which I learned from this video where he silently answers 44 questions in an empty Carrier Dome

  • POSITIVE: The combination of being hairy for some reason and having that forever-smile etched on his unblinking, round face make him incredibly off-putting to physically interact with and thus giving him a mental advantage
  • POSITIVE: He’s got major serial killer/madman vibes, which means he cannot be counted on to be reasonable or rational or to show any mercy whatsoever. How do I know this? See the below examples:
  1. He openly admits to eating others of his own kind (he said he prefers Halos over Cuties) — eat your heart out, Tony. Pun intended.
  2. He claims his best friend is “everyone” and when asked if he has siblings, pointed around the empty Carrier Dome, as if he was seeing people that were not there
  3. He claims to be fearless
  4. He unseated another definite serial killer as the school mascot:
  • POSITIVE: Toughness — He reportedly loves snow, meaning he can withstand cold weather. Plus, based on a video showing “A Day in the Life of Otto,” he sleeps outside in a hammock. Plus plus, despite the fact we are led to believe by another video that he just learned to skate, his expertise in that arena clearly hints at a hockey-playing past, which only makes him seem tougher. Finally, when he was made the official Syracuse mascot in 1995, he beat out a wolf and a lion. AN ORANGE WHO BEAT A WOLF AND A LION??? That’s one tough hombre.
  • POSITIVE: He majored in “Orangeology” and thus clearly has plenty of self-awareness and knows himself well, which is always a good thing heading into a fight
  • POSITIVE: Loves playing mind games — he refuses to admit if he’s the fruit or just the color orange. Wikipedia says “Otto is an anthropomorphism of the color orange and represents the fruit the orange.” NOT EVEN WIKIPEDIA HAS FIGURED HIM OUT.
  • POSITIVE: Dogs fear him
  • NEGATIVE: When asked how many daily selfies he takes, he said “too many to count.” Dude is a textbook narcissist and that will severely inhibit his ability to think rationally during any fight
  • NEGATIVE: According to the 44 Questions video, he has a secret love interest — could it be the ND Leprechaun?? Being in love with his opponent will certainly hurt his chances of kicking his ass
  • NEGATIVE: Not that good at Charades. I would not pick him for my Fishbowl team.
  • NEGATIVE: Based on the criteria Syracuse themselves put out for their mascot tryouts, they choose folks who are”easy-going,” “cooperative,” and “athletic, or at least coordinated.” Doesn’t sound like they’re pulling in the best fighters in the world here, folks

Look, I know Otto’s list is much longer than the Leprechaun, and that’s probably because I spent a lot more time researching Otto than I did the Leprechaun, so this is skewed a bit. Still, I think of these two mascots, Otto has LOTS more intangibles in his favor, especially in a “this guy in an Orange suit seems unhinged” kind of way.

I’ve gotta give this one to Otto.

ADVANTAGE: OTTO THE ORANGE

TOPIC 5: Experience

Alright folks, this is the final category — I wanted to separate out “Experience,” both in terms of being a mascot and in fighting itself, because I think it’s certainly a significant-enough consideration in this analysis.

Simply put, the ND Leprechaun has WAY MORE experience than Otto. We already know their ages and that the Notre Dame Leprechaun has been doing his thing WAY longer than Otto has, meaning he’s got way more knowhow on how to fight other mascots and just generally on doing things in his mascot costume/character.

Note: Otto claims that he doesn’t age, but I don’t buy it.

ALL ORANGES EXPIRE, PAL — EVEN IMPENETRABLE ONES.

Furthermore, considering he’s an Orange (or even less experienced in fighting as an anthropomorphism of the color orange), Otto certainly has been in fewer fights than a guy who literally represents the “Fighting Irish” at all sporting events.

Even further furthermore, the Leprechaun’s proficiency in fighting is frequently shown in the boxing stance he often poses with, implying his history in fistfights and bare-knuckle boxing matches. His old-style boxing form is superb, while Otto, meanwhile, has no idea what to do with his hands.

Finally, as I already pointed out above, we’ve seen Otto fight before when he took on the Virginia Tech Hokiebird. I think a lot of us had the same reaction when the Hokiebird began slurping out his innards with that unnecessarily-large straw.

Thus, due to all the above, it’s clear that when it comes to experience both in fighting and in just being a mascot, the Leprechaun takes the cake.

ADVANTAGE: ND LEPRECHAUN

Other Theories

Before I conclude this wonderful discussion, I want to quickly review a few other theories that were submitted to me in terms of how this fight would go. I’ll quickly give my thoughts on each.

A COVID-Induced Draw

I like this one because it’s so topical right now!!! I do think this is a good point, that Otto’s nose, with its size and potential splash zone, would indeed force the Leprechaun to keep his distance — especially if he wants to be COVID-conscious and continue to be on the sideline for Irish sporting events.

However, I wonder if Otto can take this a step further and force a forfeit by the Leprechaun, continuing to just try to get close to him and sneeze a bunch until he gives up.

Just some food for thought, Tyler.

The One Big Testicle Theory

I have nothing to add here, this theory is PERFECT.

Not Helpful At All: The Story of Interacting With People Online

Brian, what part of “Please also reply to this poll with your reasoning” did you not understand???

Of course I’m serious, I think that’s very clear from this article — now please either provide some explanation for your theories, folks, or get outta my replies.

I Honestly Don’t Know Who Wins In This Scenario, But It’s Making Me Thirsty

Ah yes, this is MUCH clearer than the last one...

However, I gotta give David credit — at least he provided a scenario and a theory as to what would actually occur if these two mascots squared off. I have no idea who is winning in his tweet, because I would think the ND Leprechaun dunking Otto in a Blue Moon would mean the Leprechaun wins, but “Point to #’cuse” is really throwing me off here.

Shout out to David for making me think WAY harder about his scenario than I need to!!!

Also, you should have said Oberon instead of Blue Moon. Oberon is a much better beer receptacle for oranges.

OTTO CAN DRIBBLE HIMSELF LIKE A BASKETBALL, ALL BETS ARE OFF

Look at our beloved Tim O’Malley, from the top rope, dropping this bit of knowledge on us!

If anyone has or can find a video of Otto bouncing himself like a basketball, PLEASE submit it in the comments. Not only do I need to see this unbelievable display of talent in action, but I, for some reason, feel this is a game-changer.

I have no idea how (would love to hear your theories in the comments on this), but I feel like Otto pulling this move out mid-fight would throw the Leprechaun off so much, Otto could maybe find a way to defeat him. Almost like Daniel LaRusso pulling out the Crane in Karate Kid and then just seizing the moment when his opponent walks right into his move.

I won’t incorporate this into our conclusion unless we can see this for ourselves and come up with a fighting application, but WOW is this fantastic to think about.

CONCLUSION

Alright folks, well as you could already put together from the criteria above, we’ve got ourselves an answer. The ND Leprechaun holds considerable advantages in Mobility/Vision, Weapons, and Experience, and so despite Otto’s ability to play solid-yet-squishy defense and all the unsettling intangibles he brings into the ring, we can officially declare the Notre Dame Leprechaun as the rightful champion in this fight.

Your responses in my Twitter poll not only agree, but make me question giving Otto ANY of the advantages in this one. Our loyal readers of this Notre Dame sports blog were DECISIVE in favor of the Leprechaun, and I can’t imagine why...

Needless to say, though, we can all agree that if these two behemoths of the college mascot universe were to throw hands, the Leprechaun would — to paraphrase our favorite whiny coach in the ACC — have the following mantra:

That’s all I’ve got for this, folks — make sure you sound off in the comments with all the analysis and theoretical scenarios I missed, because I think there’s so much more here if we really wanted to keep digging.

Otto, you fought valiantly — why don’t you go ahead and play us out?

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