Syracuse Football: Floyd Little will always remain ‘Mr. Syracuse University’

The love that Syracuse football icon Floyd Little has for his alma mater is unrivaled.

There are so many passionate and proud Syracuse University alums out there, myself included, but none of us can match the admiration for the ‘Cuse that the late Floyd Little, a Syracuse football treasure, possessed.

Little, 78, the Pro and College Football Hall of Famer who sadly passed away on Jan. 1, 2021, after battling cancer, brought such a wonderful love and spirit to the Hill, from his days as a legendary player in the 1960s to his time as special assistant to the director of athletics for the Orange from 2011 to 2016.

Per cuse.com, “In 2016, Little was presented with an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Syracuse University” – and deservingly so.

Tom Coughlin, a Super Bowl champion and former NFL head coach and executive, was a teammate of Little’s for Syracuse football. Coughlin made some touching comments about Little via Twitter, noting his shining personality, character, integrity and work ethic.

Additionally, in the cuse.com announcement, Coughlin said of Little, “No one loves Syracuse University as Floyd Little loves Syracuse University. He truly is Mr. Syracuse University.”

Mike Tirico, an SU alum and acclaimed broadcaster who now works for NBC Sports, is himself a huge advocate for the ‘Cuse. Tirico said of Little via cuse.com, “Born on the 4th of July, Floyd was an All-American in every way. On and off the field he represented the finest of Syracuse. From cementing the legacy of the number 44 to his Hall of Fame pro football career, he was truly one of the greats. But, for so many of us those football accomplishments stand secondary to Floyd the person.  Every second around him was a treat. Floyd always had a way of making you feel like the most important person in the room. He loved his school and any of us who were part of the Orange family. I am forever grateful to have been friends with a man who for me was the true definition of a legend.”

Prior to his Hall of Fame career in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Little was a star running back in Central New York. A three-time All-American for Syracuse football from 1964 to 1966, Little wore No. 44 for the ‘Cuse, following in the famous footsteps of Orange greats Jim Brown and Ernie Davis, who won the 1961 Heisman Trophy.

In his three seasons with Syracuse football, Little rushed for 2,704 yards and scored 46 touchdowns, while finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting twice, says the statement from the SU athletics department.

Orange athletics director John Wildhack said of Little, “His passion for Syracuse University – not just Syracuse Athletics, but the entire University – was inspiring to all of us. It is a legacy that will last forever and will never be replaced.”