October 14, 2010 12:18:00 PM
OXFORD -- The new mascot of the University of Mississippi Rebels will be a black bear, officially replacing the goateed Southern gentleman "Colonel Reb" who was banished from the sidelines almost seven years ago.
Thursday''s unveiling of the "Rebel Black Bear" is the latest move in the school''s effort to distance itself from symbols of the old South.
The announcement came after a campuswide vote in February and months of polling. The bear beat out two other finalists, the Rebel Land Shark and something called the "Hotty Toddy," an attempt to personify the school cheer. The bear received 62 percent of the vote in the final poll.
"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.
Margaret Ann Porter, a co-chairman of the student mascot selection committee, said the bear was recommended because it had a Mississippi connection, would appeal to children and would be unique to the Southeastern Conference.
Ty New, the other committee chairman, said everyone in the university''s community -- including faculty, students, alumni and season ticketholders -- had a voice in the selection.
"The fact that we were completely transparent through the process makes this a credible choice," New said in a news release.
That doesn''t mean there wasn''t griping along the way. In 1997, Ole Miss ended the waving of Confederate flags at sporting events. Last year, the band stopped playing the fight song, "From Dixie With Love," to discourage the fan chant, "The South will rise again."
And some of the colonel''s faithful sought to derail the search for a new mascot by staging protests earlier this year and in the last few weeks by gathering signatures to make Colonel Reb one of the choices.
"I think it''s hypocrisy. I think the fans of Ole Miss still want Colonel Reb. We have a petition with 3,500 signatures of students who still want Colonel Reb as their mascot and that''s the way it should be," said Brian Ferguson, a 2007 graduate who is also a member of the Colonel Reb Foundation.
Athletics Director Pete Boone acknowledged that the vote "was an emotional process" and his department would begin the lengthy process of implementation, including marketing and communications.
"It''s been a passionate topic and it''s often evoked an emotional response -- right or wrong. 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," he said.
The black bear is connected to Ole Miss through one of Oxford''s famous residents, Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner, who penned "The Bear." In it, Old Ben stands as a symbol of pride, strength and toughness. The tale of the "teddy bear" originated with the story that President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear on a Mississippi hunt in 1902.
Earnest Harmon, a freshman fullback from Macon, said he''s fine with the bear.
"A lot of the guys on the football team liked the landshark just because it was the sign our defense made after a big play, but the bear is fine, too," Harmon said.
colonol commented at 10/14/2010 1:01:00 PM:
TRADITION! WHAT IS IT ANYMORE? DOES ANYONE BELIEVE IN IT? HAS IT BEEN FORGOTTEN? NOW WE ALL KNOW WHY ALL THIS CHANGE HAS COME ABOUT. IT ALL HAS TO DO WITH BLACK AND WHITE! THE COLONEL HAS BEEN AROUND FOREVER AND EVER. WHY THE HECK ALL OF A SUDDEN WE GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND ANYTHING THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE RACIST IS BEING CHANGED? IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE "BLACK" BEAR IS RACIST TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
jeff commented at 10/14/2010 2:06:00 PM:
Wake up ALUMNI!!!
Stop sending money.
Stop going to games for a season.
This is the only way we can hold on to any memory of why we chose the University of Mississippi to be the college we did attend.
Did is the key word because it has changed and not in a good way.
jeff commented at 10/14/2010 2:15:00 PM:
My comment was marded as inappropriate?
brownidgrl commented at 10/14/2010 2:22:00 PM:
I find it funny that some diehard Rebel fans dont know the schools history. You say that that has been the mascot forever? Actually the first 131 years that the doors of Ole Miss was open to students, the Colonel was not the mascot. Colonel Rebel became the mascot in 1979...which according to factual calculations is not considered as forever. Change happens and this change started long before we had a black President. It may be about race for you but it isnt about race for everyone else. A true Rebel fan will cheer for and support thier team no matter what mascot runs around on the sidelines!!! 40 years from now our grandchildren and great grandchildren wont care what your tempertantrum was all about!
jeff commented at 10/14/2010 3:05:00 PM:
Obama's not black,he's not white, HE's an AMERICAN.
any you have probably never been on the OLE MISS campus.
colonol commented at 10/14/2010 3:10:00 PM:
MY FOREVER IS TALKING ABOUT AS LONG AS I HAVE BEEN ON THIS EARTH! IF THIS IS NOT A RACIAL THING THEN YOU TELL ME WHY WE HAVE TO GET RID OF WHAT MOST OF US HAVE KNOWN TO BE OUR MASCOT???? I HAVE AND WILL ALWAYS BE A DIE HARD FAN OF OLE MISS REBELS! THERE IS NOTHING THAT WOULD MAKE ME TURN AWAY FROM MY TEAM. THAT DOESN'T MEAN I HAVE TO LIKE THIS SO CALLED "CHANGE". I DONT LIKE IT AND I AM VOICING MY OPINION!
sandallvr commented at 10/14/2010 3:17:00 PM:
Interesting, the Mississippi Black Bear. Not particularly large as bears go. And linking the decision to Faulkner while Faulkner is being banned from school libraries as "politically incorrect" is, somehow, ironic. So many traditions being put aside for revisionism, political correctness. Black and white stood in the ranks under the Southern Cross, though some say untrue, but it is. It was the flag of a proud but defeated army, long since missappropriated and badly misused. Dixie, a minstral tune, but it defines our homes and a shared experience. And if anyone would care to look around, the South has indeed risen again as an economic powerhouse and everyone should be proud of that rise. We should not cast off traditons so lightly for political correctness. We should embrace them and understand them and accept how they bind us together. Over time they will change of their own accord or take on new meanings, meanings we give them. Let the flags fly, the music play, and the Colonel walk gracefully into the night.
olemiss commented at 10/14/2010 4:01:00 PM:
I am furious to see that the Ole Miss Rebels will now be called the Ole Miss BLACK Bears. O but its not about color is it? PITIFUL.. Changing Tradition is just STUPID. Go Black Bears Go..Just doesnt have a school spirit ring to it unless of course maybe you are black. Might as well changed the name to Chocolate Bunnies...If the deciding forces wanted to get away from color issues of any kind why in the world would seemingly intelligent people choose a Black bear as a mascot. Does the MSU bulldogs refer to themselves as the White bulldogs? NOOOOOOOO...Im sick of the race card being used....Its all how you choose to interpret..The cross is a symbol of Christianity However, Extremist use this same cross as a symbol of Hatred..Keep giving in for political correctness and we will no longer be allowed to wear a cross..Use your head people....Its not about hate unless that is what you choose to believe..The ole miss rebel was a mascot..Who was he hurting? I would rather cheer for Alabama than continue to support a school that doesnt have the back bone to stand up for tradition..O but its not about color..nope not at all..PITIFUL..
cire commented at 10/14/2010 5:40:00 PM:
I can see how this issue can be associated with race, but to associate this with Obama is really taking it too far. From the readings, this mascot was voted for by Ole Miss students, alumni, faculty, season ticket holders, and staff. Some traditions need to be carried on, but some traditions need to be laid to rest.
mark commented at 10/14/2010 5:54:00 PM:
Hey jeff, Obama is not black, he is not white and he is not American
jaymike76 commented at 10/15/2010 5:08:00 AM:
Obama is the president. His race isn't an issue in the black bear mascot. I'm not a fan of any of the Mississippi college teams. I was born and raised in Columbus. I think that rebel and any other rebel symbol should be gotten rid of. Tradition or not, it was offensive to look at. It's a reminder of the things a group of people had to deal with and if there is a way to improve the relationship and how the south has progressed like i know it has we should change it. Calling it a black bear well that's a big leap considering it's MS and the stigma that has when i tell people where i'm from. The hospitality state. I love it.
deputysargent commented at 10/15/2010 5:15:00 AM:
This is the dumbest thing I have heard since Obama's last speech. All alumni should stop sending funds to Ole Miss and people should boycott the sporting events. The AD there has done nothing but ruin tradition that has been there for years and has bowed down to a few in a polictical spineless way. I'm changing to State.
jaymike76 commented at 10/15/2010 6:51:00 AM:
Ok deputysargent, If and I say IF the tradition was to let's say segregate a group of people from another group of people just because they looked different and you thought that wasn't right, what would you do? if you had the power to do something about it. To change that mascot is symbolic. It shows that the OLD way of thinking is slowly going away. We should look to bigger and brighter futures where someone can say man, the south USED to be a hot bed of racial tension but now with all the changes that have taken place it's a better place i can raise a family because NO ONE is holding to old ideals and everyone is more tolerant of differences. They should change KFC mascot too. He looks like an old plantation owner... his name is the colonel but he doesn't wear a uniform... hmmm... good thing i don't eat there...
jaymike76 commented at 10/15/2010 6:53:00 AM:
Mark, if President Obama isn't an American, how did he become president? Only American born citizens can be president. interesting...
ready4achange commented at 10/15/2010 8:31:00 AM:
Funny how we keep stating "BLACK" bear as if that is something about race in itself..hello?? It's a TYPE of bear. Regardless, I don't see the big deal about it all. Change is emminent no matter what the tradition is. I personally don't care whether the band plays Dixie, or the lil old man known as the Colonel is turned into a cute little teddy bear. (But personally I don't care for the flag, so that was one change I applaud, but yet I'm not originally from this state and don't care for our state flag either..beside the point) BUT, this was a vote and a fair one. If it's indeed about race as to why a BLACK BEAR was chosen...funny how it was voted in by more whites than blacks..just as whites want to blame blacks for voting in Obama..but it was WHITES that voted him in with a majority. I do believe some hold on to the past far too long, blacks and whites both! So let it go...stop letting what's in the past dictate your future. What happened in the past was horrible but this is the here and now. If you want to get technical and get all politically correct...then watch out rebel fans, the name "OLE MISS" is next because of the origin of it. Let it be, old colonel or teddy bear, they will forever be the team up north anway! :) GO DAWGS! See you 11/27!
blondemommy commented at 10/15/2010 8:34:00 AM:
This is the most ludacris thing I have EVER seen in my existence. If everyone that called the colonel reb a racist mascot apparently did not read into history that he was in actuality a black man who was at every game rain or shine back in the 1800s. Im sure if he knew what was going on he would be ashamed!!! The black bear is racist. There is no way to justify it isn't. I could have just been simply a bear but no! I will not support the bears but I will ALWAYS support the colonel rebel. I will play "to dixie with love" and will will fly the old Ole Miss flag with pride because that is what a TRUE fan does. HOTTY TODDY COLONEL REB!!!!
blondemommy commented at 10/15/2010 8:42:00 AM:
ready for a change: you are a state fan and if this was happening at your school, you would not be happy either!!! Yall griped for how many years over the cowbell???? Enough said!
captamerica commented at 10/15/2010 9:43:00 AM:
Well, being an Ole Miss alum from undergrad and law school, I hate to see the Colonel go in the manner in which he did. The reasons given for his demise were poor, at best. That being said, of the three final choices for his replacement, the bear was the best. Now, they need to make that bear ferocious - not that grove loving clawless, 4-toothed teddy bear that had appeared as the Colonel's replacement. The bear needs to sport flesh-tearing claws and a "I'll tear off your head and scat down your neck" attitude. Let's make him instill fear in our opponents, not a desire to run up and give him a hug.
muw-girl commented at 10/15/2010 10:27:00 AM:
People like to throw stones at Ole Miss for being "racist", but there are certainly other institutions that have adopted mascots that blatantly marginalize and offend groups of people. Mascots change over the years and nothing is "forever and ever". Consider USM's mascot history: April 1940, the student body voted to name the teams Confederates. The teams were called
the Confederates during fall 1940 and spring 1941. In September 1941, Confederates was dropped, and the
teams were named Southerners.
Several years later, in 1953, General Nat (for Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest) was approved as the Southerners' mascot. In 1972, alumni, faculty, students, and staff were asked to submit new names for the athletic teams, and an ad hoc committee appointed by the Alumni Association voted on the submissions. Our present mascot, the Golden Eagles, was chosen as the athletic teams' name.
ms friend commented at 10/15/2010 11:03:00 AM:
I am so frustrated by this. Ole Ms Rebels changing to Black Bear? that is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Black Bear??? The school has history and now it has been stripped away by a few blacks who are offended? hum bug! I can't believe the school let this happen. Ole Ms will go down....I guess it will be an all black school next??? black bear, black students??? and for the alumni to allow this to happen?? what are you a bunch of cowards?
dz commented at 10/15/2010 1:25:00 PM:
Just to clarify for all of you outraged folks on this board, Ole Miss will NOT be changing from the Rebels to the 'Black Bears'. It will still be the Ole Miss Rebels. Period. They will just have the bear (named Rebel) as the sideline mascot. LOTS of schools have things like this. Alabama is not the elephants, Tennessee is not the hound dogs, etc. This is just a mascot. A person to run around in a costume and pump up the crowd. Someone to take pictures with at football and basketball games. He doesn't take away the pride of the school or the history. He helps add to it. Besides, the point has been made that Col Reb was the mascot for less than 30 years. It's not really a long-standing tradition.
bob commented at 10/15/2010 2:27:00 PM:
Dress the bear in Colonel Rebs' suit, tie, hat, beard and cane. I find it ironic that KFC is now spending millions and millions to bring back Colonel Sanders to the forefront of its' marketing campaign. Hmmmm, a southern colonel with a cane, a white suit and white beard is ok to dust off and revive for a national chicken restaurant serving whites AND minorities, but Ole Miss is spending millions to retire our southern colonel. RIDICULOUS!!!!
semper-fi commented at 10/16/2010 1:10:00 PM:
First, it was the flag, then Dixie, now Colonel Reb. I am sick to my stomach. Looks like someone at the so-called school up north,had some backbone. What gives? Stand up, get mad, voice your opionion!!!
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