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.
"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."
| October 14, 2010; 3:38 PM ET
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