And yet the resounding, nationwide “WTF” lives on.
Listen, I’m not here to preach about the merits of surrendering Colonel Reb to Union forces, or even slip in a classic Admiral Ackbar joke (or ten).
In fact, considering the other two finalists — out of an initial pool of over a thousand — were the “Hotty Toddy” and “Rebel Land Shark,” and the winner only got 62% of the vote, I suppose I have no choice but to applaud the Mississippian masses’ election of the “Rebel Black Bear” as Ole Miss’ new mascot.
But was even the mere prospect of such a dilemma necessary?
Again, just as a reminder, this isn’t about Colonel Reb. Screw him and his antiquated, anachronistic outlook on the modern world.
I mean, he was, like, so stuck in the past, man. Right? And a past that obviously so many in Mississippi were sensitive to, if not outright ashamed of.
Taking that rat’s nest out of it, though, is one not still forced to wonder: Uhhh, just how in the hell did we get to a damn “Rebel Black Bear?”
Well, let’s explore that after the jump…
Margaret Ann Morgan was the committee co-chair of the group tasked with determining the new face of University of Mississippi Athletics. She had this to say in a statement released via the school’s website today:
We selected the Rebel Black Bear because it was supported through the entire process and was the lead runner in the final poll. It has a Mississippi connection, is timeless, appeals to children, is unique to the SEC and fits the other characteristics established in the initial focus groups.
Through this long process we have seen the love that people have for the university. Having listened to all of those groups, we know this is a choice that best represents what they have said they looked for in a mascot.
Hey, I’m with ya, Ms. Morgan — for the most part.
Nearly everything about that artist’s rendering of the Rebel Black Bear, and perhaps black bears in general, seems to fall in line with such criteria. There is, well, just one thing, however: How strong is this connection between The Magnolia State and black bears?
Out of all those desirable qualities in a mascot, a connection to Mississippi would presumably have to be near the top of the list, right? Well, according to the map below — charting the range of black bears in North America — it appears that Mississippian black bears are somewhat of a novelty.
Now, that’s not to say there is no connection present. According to Wikipedia, the Louisiana black bear is found in parts of southern Mississippi.
Of course — being called the “Louisiana black bear” notwithstanding — it also happens to be on the Federal list of threatened species, and, well, I guess that may call the whole “timeless” aspect of the Rebel Black Bear into question, too.
To be clear, though, I don’t really mean to sound so harsh. I just think there might have been more suitable options for Ole Miss, and ones that fit rather nicely into the search committee’s stated agenda.
A quick trip to web juggernaut, StateAnimals.com, reveals several, in fact:
|State Land Mammal: White-tailed Deer||State Reptile: American Alligator|
|State Land Mammal: Red Fox||State Insect: Honeybee|
|State Water Mammal: Bottlenose Dolphin||State Butterfly: Spicebush Swallowtail|
|State Bird: Mockingbird||State Fish: Largemouth Bass|
|State Waterfowl: Wood Duck|
I particularly like the idea of the Red Fox. That would have weaved in seamlessly, seemingly, with the amount of red in Ole Miss’ uniforms, yeah?
A deer/buck could have been interesting, too, but — as a fan of an SEC East team — if I’m really pressed, I would have absolutely loved to see the “Ole Miss Rebellious Large Mouth Bass” flopping around in Oxford and various other campuses throughout the southeast.
Probably would have appeased the Admiral Ackbar contingent as well…