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Ole Miss gets a new mascot: the Rebel Black Bear


It took eight months of fussin' and feudin', but the University of Mississippi has a new mascot.

Say hello to the Rebel Black Bear.

Over 10 years ago, Ole Miss decided to begin distancing itself from the Old South, getting rid of Confederate battle flags and, finally, "Colonel Reb," a seemingly genteel Southern planter who'd been the mascot since 1979.

There were statewide polls, focus groups and a lighthearted initiative for the fictional squidman Admiral Ackbar that gained some momentum until the Lucasfilm buzzkills refused to allow the rights to the character to be used. Finally, there was an online vote open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and season-ticket holders.

The new mascot, inspired by Oxford author William Faulkner's work "The Bear," won 62 percent of the vote, beating the Rebel Land Shark and Hotty Toddy (Hotty Toddy? Seriously?)

"I know there was a lot of people emotionally invested in Colonel Reb and everybody might not completely agree with the bear, but I think everyone can be proud of how our students went about the process," said Sparky Reardon, the university's dean of students told the Associated Press.

The Rebel Bear is going to find it tough to replace Colonel Reb for some supporters.

"I think it's hypocrisy. I think the fans of Ole Miss still want Colonel Reb," said Brian Ferguson, a 2007 graduate who is also a member of the Colonel Reb Foundation.

Gaining acceptance may be a slow process for the Rebel Bear.

"It's been a passionate topic and it's often evoked an emotional response - right or wrong," Athletic Director Pete Boone said. "Change is certainly difficult. But I appreciate the passion from our people. They say indifference is the worst emotion out there, and I don't think we're guilty of that."

By Cindy Boren  | October 14, 2010; 3:38 PM ET
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HOLD ON A SECOND, gosh darn toot'n dem'it don't ya'll go runn'in and tells'n me what to approve or like. Since when is 60% an OVERWHELMING deciding factor?

Why not bring back the case for the Rebbell'innn bald clams. O's i suppose you be say'n that seafood has no place, but'cha WRONG son!!! DEAD wrong boy!!!! Who doesn't enjoy slurping on some souther'm hosspatality bald clams. yummm bald clams

Posted by: ursofakingdumb1 | October 14, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as an LSU Tiger (and proud of it!) I'll say there's a lot to be said for picking an indigenous critter as your mascot. Good job, Ole Miss!

Posted by: JoeMc | October 14, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

BLACK BEARS? An obscure Faulkner reference may be a bit esoteric--even for us Southerners. Faulkner hasn't been taught outside of "English 408/Southern Writers" since the 60's. And a BLACK Bear, could be seen as a bit racial.

How about the MISSISSIPPI MUSKRATS? Not very terrifying, but they're indigenous, what with Mississippi mud and all.

Then, if unique and a bit esoteric is the call, they could go with THE MISSISSIPIANS [An idigenous population in N. America from the Paleozoic era. They built Mounds(read dikes & levees); grew corn; had warriors; wore clothes and ceremonial costumes.] Just trying to help.

But, a 60% vote doesn't require a run-off.

Posted by: sturdivantl1 | October 14, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

What about Colonel Angus for Ole Miss?

Miss Anabelle: Oh.. oh! Well, that must be the Colonel! Colonel Angus!

Melinda: [ excited ] Could it really be, Mama? Could it really be Colonel Angus?

Miss Anabelle: ..I don't know, uh.. We haven't seen Colonel Angus around these parts for years..

[ Daddy steps onto the porch, from inside the plantation ]

Daddy: Are you ladies out here talking about Colonel Angus?

Melinda: Yes, Daddy! I can't wait to meet him!

Daddy: Oh, watch out, Melinda! Once a woman is introduced to Colonel Angus, she'll settle for nothing less.

Melinda: Daddy, they say all the womenfolk just love Colonel Angus!

Daddy: Hmm.. I don't know why people make such a big fuss over Colonel Angus!

Miss Anabelle: I myself never much cared for Colonel Angus! He rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure why.. can't put my finger on it..

Daddy: Colonel Angus is an acquired taste! Bedelia!

[ Bedelia, the maid, comes running onto the porch ]

Bedelia: Yes, Sir?

Miss Anabelle: Break out some fresh linens, Bedilia! We're gonna have Colonel Angus here tonight!

Bedelia: Colonel Angus? I don't know nothin' about no Colonel Angus!

Daddy: Well, get ready, Bedelia. If I remember correctly, Colonel Angus can be very messy!

[ at last, Colonel Angus steps onto the porch ]

Daddy: As I live and breath! Colonel Angus!

Miss Anabelle: Oh, Colonel Angus! You old Carpetbagger!

Colonel Angus: Anabelle! I fear my visit.. is an inconvenience.

Miss Anabelle: [ laughing ] Nonsense, Colonel Angus! We're always happy to see your shiny face!

Daddy: Colonel Angus! What brings you to these parts?

Colonel Angus: I'm headed.. down South!

Daddy: Hmm. Of course!

Miss Anabelle: Uh.. how far south are you headed, Colonel Angus?

Colonel Angus: T'ain't really sure. I prefer the Deep South.. I like the heat.. the humidity..

Daddy: Hmmm.. sir, I do not!

Colonel Angus: [ ] And who is this.. little rosebud?

Daddy: This is our daughter, Melinda.

Melinda: Colonel Angus. The pleasure is all mine. I've heard so much about you.

Colonel Angus: Well, my dear.. don't believe everything you hear.. about ol' Colonel Angus. Colonel Angus might be rough.. Colonel Angus might not smell like a bed of roses.. but, deep down.. Colonel Angus is very sweet.

Miss Anabelle: Well, we hope you'll spend the night with us.

Colonel Angus: Well, thank you, Miss Anabelle. And if I overstay my welcome.. just tap me on the head.

Posted by: ProfessorPeabody | October 14, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The Rebel Black Bear? Sounds like a mixed metaphor to me. Are black bears known for being especially rebellious, and if so, against what, exactly? Maybe they are rebelling as a way of expressing some teen-aged angst against domination by Mama Grizzlies? I'd pay special attention to the bear's paws in these three illustrations. Clearly, this mascot is a Rebel without a Claw.

Posted by: seismic-2 | October 14, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Black Bears? Well, OK. (Shrug.) Better than the Rebel mascot that recalled the Confederate army unit composed of University of Mississippi students. The unit got slaughtered at Gettysburg. Consequently, Col. Reb always seemed a poor choice of mascot for sports teams.

Posted by: gretel1 | October 14, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

First a note of clarity for that lone LSU Tiger Fan! The LSU "Tigers" were a Louisiana Confederate Regiment in the Second War of Independence, the others just belong in zoos, or as carpet!

Secondly, Mississippians have already spoken on the "Erase The Past Heritage" Issue vis a vis their Confederate Heritage by voting in a majority to retain the Old State Flag. Deo Vindice!

Third and last, the Klan's favourite flag remains our national ensign! Googe a pic of the National Klan Rally in Washington DC? All Red White and Blue in its present format.

Posted by: dave_sheehan641 | October 14, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

They should've kept Colonel Reb.

He was a cartoon figure, for God's sake; besides, the Civil War was (a) 150 years ago and (b) 150 years ago. He LOOKED like a Missisiisppian. What's next, no more Running Reb at UNLV?

The bear just looks stupid.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 14, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

By the way, the team nickname is Rebels. The stupid bear doesn't even make any sense.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 14, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

So ten years ago Ole Miss began distancing itself from the Old South and what did it get them? Do they now rank higher as a University, win more football games,attract more students from Massachusetts, or what? Perhaps they should try changing their name to New Miss.

Posted by: georgegarrett | October 15, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

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