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Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Birthplace of College Football

Why Knights?

Statue
"The First Game" statue at Rutgers Stadium.
Prior to every home football game, the team travels down the "Scarlet Walk" and touches the statue.

Since its days when the school was officially known as Queen's College, the athletic teams were referred to as the Queensmen. Officially serving as the mascot figure for several football seasons beginning in 1925 was a giant, colorfully felt-covered, costumed representation of an earlier campus symbol, the "Chanticleer." Though a fighting bird of the kind which other colleges have found success, to some it bore the connotation of "chicken." It is also a little-known fact that the New Brunswick-based broadcast station, WCTC, which serves as the flagship station of Rutgers athletics, had its call letters derived from the word "ChanTiCleer." Chanticleer remained as the nickname for some 30 years.

In the early 1950's, in the hope of spurring both the all-around good athletic promise and RU fighting spirit, a campus-wide selection process changed the mascot to that of a Knight.

By 1955 , the Scarlet Knight had become the new Rutgers mascot. The Scarlet-garbed knight, riding a spirited white charger, came to represent a new era - the rejuvenation of first class football "On the Banks."

1892 - A Rutgers legend is created when the Princeton football team breaks the leg of Rutgers' biggest player, Frank "Pop" Grant. While being carried from the field, Pop is claimed to have mumbled, "I'd die for dear old Rutgers." The saying, spread across the country when it was satirized in the play "High Button Shoes," became a slogan for school spirit and the old college try. Many alumni have since offered their own versions, including the alumnus who swears Pop really said, "I'll die if somebody doesn't give me a cigarette."

Why Scarlet?

Scarlet Knight
The Scarlet Knight

The color scarlet was first proposed in the campus newspaper, The Targum, in May 1869. It was adopted shortly thereafter. This color was chosen because it is a striking color and because a good scarlet ribbon could be easily obtained. Originally, the students desired the color orange to commemorate the Dutch heritage of Rutgers. An orange flag,however, could not be found in the New Brunswick area. The students settled for an available scarlet flag. Scarlet soon became symbolically appropriate, for it was discovered that the Dutch Prince of Orange actually used red, not orange, in his family coat of arms. The trustees adopted scarlet as the school color in 1900, making Rutgers one of the first colleges in the US to have an official school color. From the time of its choice by the students, the scarlet has been the Rutgers color.

College and university colors and coats of arms were not unusual in the old world but had been little used in the new world. They came into large and vivid use only when athletics began to take rigorous hold in this country.

In the historic first collegiate football game on November 6, 1869, the Princeton team members watched the Rutgers men don turbans and kerchiefs as close to scarlet as possible for team identification.

Even without scarlet shirts, head wear alone had added another "first," the custom of wearing caps of a team's college, one long-copied over the years of football uniform development.

Sports lore at Rutgers has also known terms such as "Scarlet Scourge" and the lasting "Upstream Rutgers!" from the first "big time" grid venture under George Foster Sanford.

Through the years, Scarlet has become embodied in the literature and songs of the college. Scarlet is identified with its sons and daughters, and is highly emblematic of the college itself.

The Ringing of the Bell

Old Queens
Old Queens

Rutgers began its extraordinary history as Queen's College, which was charted in 1766, the eighth institution of higher learning founded in the colonies. In 1825, the name of the college was changed to Rutgers. Its athletic teams have long competed in proud association with colonial Queen's College and "Old Queens" building traditions. The bell in the latter's cupola, an 1826 gift of namesake donor Colonel Henry Rutgers, along with tolling the change of classes, was, and still is, rung on special occasions, including those of prized athletic success. Most recently, the bell was rung when the 2006-07 women's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Finals in Cleveland, the 1999-2000 women's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Philadelphia, and when the 1990 men's soccer team reached the championship game of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cannon War

On the night of April 25, 1875, a group of nine sophomores from Rutgers set off to Princeton to take back a cannon they thought was rightfully theirs. Student tradition has it that at one time the cannon was the property of Rutgers College, but Princeton had stolen it and placed it on their own campus. The Orangemen constantly taunted Rutgers with the cannon. Finally in 1875, Rutgersmen went to Princeton and returned at dawn with the cannon.

The story of the "Cannon War spread throughout the nation's newspapers, Princeton responded by stealing a few muskets from the Rutgers Armory. To settle the dispute, the presidents of the two colleges set up a joint committee which eventually recommended that the cannon be returned.

Today the cannon is behind Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus. The cannon that stands in front of Old Queens was placed there by the Class of 1877 as a memorial of the event. To this day, spirited Rutgers students engage in midnight trips to paint Princeton's cannon with their scarlet pride.

Fight Song

R-U, Rah, Rah,
R-U, Rah, Rah,
Whoo-Raa, Whoo-Raa;
Rutgers Rah
Up-Stream Red Team;
Red Team Up-Stream
Rah, Rah,
Rutgers Rah!!

Alma Mater

Glee Club's 2013 adaptation
From far and near we came to Rutgers,
And resolved to learn all that we can;
And so we settled down,
In that noisy college town,
On the banks of the old Raritan.

Listen to the original version [MP3]

Original first verse
My father sent me to old Rutgers,
And resolv'd that I should be a man;
And so I settled down,
In that noisy college town,
On the banks of the old Raritan.

Chorus...
On the banks of the old Raritan (my friends)
Where old Rutgers evermore shall stand,
For has she not stood
Since the time of the flood,
On the banks of the old Raritan.

Her ardent spirit stirred and cheered me
From the day me college years began;
Gracious Alma Mater mine;
Learning's fair and honored shrine;
On the banks of the old Raritan.
(Chorus)

I love her flaming far-flung banner
I love her triumphs proud to scan,
And I glory in her fame
That's immortalized her name.
On the banks of the old Raritan.
(Chorus)

My heart clings closer than the ivy
As life runs out its fleeting span,
To the stately, ancient walls
Of her hallowed, classic halls
On the banks of the old Raritan.
(Chorus)

Then sing aloud to Alma Mater;
And keep the Scarlet in the van;
For with her motto high
Rutgers' name shall never die,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
(Chorus)

> Rutgers Songs

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