Ole Miss is replacing Colonel Reb

Published: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.

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The polls have shut down in Oxford, Miss. The ballots are in and a new symbol for Ole Miss football will be parading around the sidelines ... in the near future.

Thirteen years after former University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat first introduced the idea of removing storied mascot Colonel Reb from public display at UM athletic events, 12,000 votes were cast to select three to five mascots, out of 11 concepts, to move forward for artist renderings.

The officially death of Colonel Reb in 2003 was a sad and unnecessary day in college football, but Ole Miss is looking to "right" its wrong by bringing in a new mascot — one that somehow embodies everything that is Ole Miss, Oxford and Mississippi.

One of the early dark horses was Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar, who was inadvertently nominated. Sadly, he didn't make the final 11. Neither did red and blue solo cups.

Colonel Reb's "resemblance" to a white antebellum plantation owner caused protest from students. They felt the Colonel's image displayed racial overtones, but many felt he was simply a symbol of what the ideal "Southern gentleman" from the Antebellum Age should look like. Also, it is believed that Colonel Reb, designed in the 1930s, was modeled after "Blind" Jim Ivy, a black man.

Regardless of what people say Colonel Reb, he's dead and he ain't comin' back.

Here they are, and remember, the votes are in but we won't know who the finalists will be until August or September. There are also excerpts from UM's mascot committee selection website.

Rebel the Black Bear — First off, when was the last time there were black bears in northern Mississippi? Or the rest of the state? Rumor has it that all the black bears brought into the state swam back to Arkansas and Louisiana. LSU and Arkansas fans would get a good snicker at such a laughable mascot. A bear lumbering around the stands, dressed in red and blue just sounds silly. Might as well get a real bear. Now, that would be cool.

"Our black bear would stare down the Ole Miss opponents as it prowls the Rebel sidelines. With a growl that would intimidate any opponent, our bear would be a real source of spirit. Off the field, 'Rebel' would be a real Ole Miss ambassador … full of pride and welcoming any opportunity to spread the joy of being a Rebel."

Hotty and Toddy — It's a great drink for a rainy or cold day. You can always sip on one when you're feeling ill, too. It's also the name of the school's most popular chant. It possess all the charm the South strives for. But how would you portray it? The thought is by using muppets. A giant alcoholic beverage at a football game full of rambunctious football fans can't be a good idea either — much like this mascot concept in general.

"This mascot concept would bring those words, and the emotions connected to those words, alive in a pair of lovable characters. The pair may be animals or original 'muppet-like' characters, but completely unique to Ole Miss. They can get as spirited and excited as any Rebel fan, and they love to pump up the crowd."

Rebel Titan — The name is exciting. Titans were some of the first rebels in world history, but making a titan a figure at such a southern school just sounds awkward and way too forced. A titan with southern charm? Not so sure it works like the school would want it to.

"Ole Miss graduates are Titans of industry, business, politics, sports, music, art and literature. All Ole Miss fans have enjoyed game day surrounded by the classic Greek architecture of the campus, and the Lyceum's iconic columns are internationally recognized symbols of the strength and power of the University of Mississippi."

Rebel Riverboat Pilet — The plan is to have "him" man the ship of Vaught Hemingway Stadium at home games — like a pirate. The school might say he's a steamboat captain, but watch how many fans and commentators poke fun at the new pirate mascot. Sure, steamboats and the Mississippi River are special to the state, but there is no intimidation or real excitement in this mascot.

"He is always ready to hoist the Ole Miss colors and lead the charge into the stormy waters of athletic competition. Without any doubt, Rebel foes would know they are in for a fight when they hear the sound of the 'Ole Miss' steam whistles blowing."

Rebel Blues Musician — Blues is a huge part of Mississippi culture as it was created and refined in the state. Blues men were even considered rebels of their time. Mississippi juke joints are some of the most fun places to be in the wee hours of the night. Ole Miss also publishes Living Blues magazine. However, this could be a public relations nightmare. Would it be more racist to have an old black man or an old white man? Not even the Blues can save this one.

"The Rebel Blues Musician can excite and unify an athletics crowd just as the actual musician excites an audience. There would be endless opportunities for interacting with the crowd, and the Rebel Blues Musician would provide broad appeal at a variety of Ole Miss events."

Rebel the Cardinal — The idea is that this mascot stems from the student spirit group called the Cardinal Club that has been around since the 1930s. So, a bird, right? Well, the state bird is the mockingbird.

"The cardinal concept would marry the Ole Miss school color, cardinal red, with the strong Rebel spirit and tradition of our students and fans. The Ole Miss Cardinal would fit in perfectly in the grove on game days, and would reflect the pride and tradition of the Ole Miss Rebels."

Rebel Fanatic — A crazed fan? Aren't there enough of them at SEC games already? Pass.

" 'Fanatic' characters are a whole new mascot genre and are among the most effective and popular mascots among professional and college teams. As Hotty Toddy echoes throughout the Grove and the stadium, the Rebel Fanatic would lead the charge."

Rebel Land Shark — Apparently this comes from an old tradition that involves mimicking a shark fin. There are even thoughts of playing the "Jaws" theme song at games. Gators fans won't be too happy about that. They might as well get the old Land Shark from vintage Saturday Night Live episodes. But sharks and Mississippi don't exactly mix, unless we're talking about bullsharks in the river. You'd probably have better luck naming it after the beer.

"The Land Shark is a result of an organic movement on campus and would be unique to the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebel family has already embraced the Land Shark, making it a big part of the football game-day experience, and the Land Shark has begun to spread to other sports, too."

Rebel the Horse — Oxford High's mascot is a horse, so it wouldn't be out of place up there. But the high school's nickname is also the Chargers. Still, this mascot would cause the least amount of controversy, plus someone could ride a real horse into the stadium. An artist could probably get the most creative with a Horse as the centerpiece. It isn't perfect, but it isn't silly, either.

"Rebels, more than anything, are free spirits. Rebels lead the charge with strength and confidence. Nothing portrays this sense of Rebel freedom, strength and confidence like a charging stallion."

Rebel Mojo — Let the stereotypical imagery begin. Not even touching this one.

"A mascot is a team's good luck charm, a talisman of sorts. But there is another word with a similar meaning and with its roots deep in the cultural soil of Mississippi – MOJO. This concept celebrates Mississippi culture and our love for all things Mississippi."

Rebel Lion — Put the two words together and you get ... "Rebellion." Clever, but you'd have a major one at the Grove if this one was chosen. Lions and Mississippi? No, sir.

"Within the animal kingdom, pride is most strongly associated with the Lion, the “King of Beasts” and a fierce and heroic animal. The Rebel Lion concept is rooted in the pride we all feel for Ole Miss."

So ... is it really too late for Admiral Ackbar?

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