1964 - 77 Orangemen
(Authentic Reproduction)




Coming off of the 1963 frosh team was HB Floyd Little, a prep star originally slotted for Notre Dame who instead chose to follow in the footsteps of Ernie Davis and completed his first varsity year at Syracuse as a soph All American. With a dedicated Jim Nance blocking for him, the Orangemen had a potent inside-outside attack. AP All American center Pat Killorin supplied the line power and Little rushed for a Syracuse sophomore record of 828 yards and 12 TD's. He also found time to be team leader in receptions, kickoff and punt returns. Nance fulfilled a great deal of his promise with 951 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns although he did not eclipse Brown or Davis but when he was on his game, he was awesome, displaying tremendous power and speed. The Little-Nance combination led the country in per-game rushing yardage and one coach summed Nance up by stating, "He doesn't have contact, he has collisions." Nance also was the NCAA wrestling champion and continued to blossom in the pros as a perennial all star with the Patriots for many years and the team marched to an impressive 7-3 record and the right to meet potent LSU in the Sugar Bowl. They dropped an exciting game there 13-10 but impressed a national audience. The only change in the helmet design was moving the two-and-a-half inch, dark navy blue numerals from the rear quarter of the shell to the sides to give a more traditional look to the identifiable orange helmet with navy blue one-inch center stripe so closely associated with the Orangemen. Nance left for the pros but 1965 provided Little with another backfield bodyguard in the form of Larry Csonka. The Solon, Ohio star actually spent his freshman year between fullback, linebacker, and defensive tackle and began his varsity career as a linebacker for the first two games of the season. That was quickly repaired and the 238-pounder teamed with Little to again affect a Mr. Outside/Mr. Inside rushing attack. Little passed Brown and Davis-set rushing records and led the country in TD's with nineteen. QB Rick Cassata and future Jaguars and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin a soph wingback, played behind big tackle Gary Bugenhagen and center Pat Killorin who received some All American notice. LB Jim Cheyunski and late-bloomer DT Steve Chomyszak who only lettered in '65 yet played seven years with the Jets and Bengals as one of the strongest men in the NFL bolstered the defense and the team rolled to a 7-3 record, matching their ’64 regular season mark, defeating all of their traditional Eastern rivals in the process. Little again was named All American. 


1966 began poorly with losses to Baylor and UCLA but young Tony Kyasky came into his own as a DB and the Little-Csonka express picked up steam. Little was a three-time All American and Csonka showed power and speed in picking up 1012 yards. Having guard Gary Bugenhagen paving the way to the tune of All East and some All America honors made it a bit easier. Bugenhagen later played a few seasons with the Bills and Patriots. Cheyunski missed the season which hurt the defense but beating Penn State 12-10 with Little and Csonka gaining 243 yards between them made the season a morale builder and won a Gator Bowl berth. The 18-12 loss to Tennessee did not dampen the satisfaction of attaining an 8-3 record.



One of six children whose father died of cancer when he was eight years of age, Floyd Little overcame a family situation that saw him raised on welfare and required him to work until 10 PM every evening while he was in high school. Little utilized his natural intelligence and burning desire to succeed to become one of the greats in the annals of Syracuse football history but his path was difficult. He did not play his first football game until he stepped onto the sandlots of New Haven, CT at the age of fifteen, ran out of high school eligibility while not being close to achieving minimal graduation credits, and skirted the outside of the law while spending one summer running numbers to support his family. Managing a scholarship to Bordentown, N.J. Military Institute, the two years there allowed him to develop as a student and public speaker, and hone his athletic skills as he spent his time studying and lifting weights. He developed into a dependable and talented running back and spurned an offer from Notre Dame, instead deciding to emulate the late Ernie Davis and attend Syracuse. Little was the heart and soul of the team from 1964 through 1966 as a three-time All American who was a savage blocker, tension-provoking kick and punt return man, and slashing change-of-pace rusher who had surpassed the records of both Jim Brown and Ernie Davis by the conclusion of his junior season. His varsity debut against Kansas where he completed the day with 159 yards rushing and 254 total yards became in many ways, typical. His three-year varsity career resulted in 4947 total yards, 2704 rushing yards, forty-six touchdowns, and the devoted loyalty of his teammates because he was both the best and hardest working player on the team. He would rouse others from their rooms to lift weights, run, and encourage them to join him on the winter and spring track teams to maintain higher levels of conditioning. He found tutors for those not doing well academically and despite his poor school background prior to attending Bordentown, was a fine student who majored in history and religion and often quoted the great poets when making public speeches. Floyd Little lived up to the famed number 44 at Syracuse and more, eventually being inducted to the College Football Hall Of Fame. He followed his Syracuse exploits with a nine-year career in the pros with the Denver Broncos, a poor team that he led with 12,103 all purpose yards, 6300 rushing yards, and All AFC and Pro Bowl honors. While both considering entry to Syracuse and during his time there, Little refused to accept any offers of money from boosters and in the pros he maintained his moral compass and devoted himself to community affairs work in numerous organizations in the Denver area. He continued to pursue his education and earned a Masters degree in Judicial Administration before becoming heavily involved in the ownership of automobile dealerships. Little remains a legend at Syracuse, a humble, driven man who served as an example to all that hard work and dedication can overcome the most difficult of obstacles.

As the assembly line of running backs moved forward, Little went on to a sterling career with the Denver Broncos and Csonka became the focus of the attack for '67, boosted by reception leader and future NFL coach Coughlin. Csonka was ganged up on in each game but churned out big yardage on 261 carries, a true workhorse as he would be in his Pro Football Hall Of Fame career after being chosen as the Dolphins first draft choice. Injured against Navy, it cost Syracuse the game. A bitter 29-20 loss to Penn State left them with a second consecutive 8-2 season with Csonka named as an All American. The Orangemen's defense buried UCLA in the finale 32-14 and completely limited Heisman winner Gary Beban. The unheralded "D" finished second in the country against the rush with soph tackles Lou Gubitosa and Art Thoms, and safety Tony Kyasky providing the roadblocks. 1968 returned Thoms, a future Raider DT and member of Syracuse’s All Century team and Gubitosa. Paul Paolisso won the QB job and threw well for 989 yards, a real Schwartzwalder departure from the pounding ground attack although FB Al Newton, sporting Csonka's number 39 ran for 618 yards. With losses to rivals West Virginia and Penn State and a 43-0 wipeout by Cal, it was a pedestrian 6-4 season that would seem desirable from the perspective of the stormy 1969 that was to follow.

If interested in any of these Syracuse helmets please click on the photos below.