Mischief is being made in Oxford again.
Last fall a group calling itself Forward Rebels placed anonymous ads in newspapers around the state critical of the University of Mississippi administration and especially its athletic director.
The group spent a lot of money embarrassing the university and creating a distraction that undermined support for the school and its athletic programs.
During the football season, Houston Nutt, the head football coach was fired, as expected, and the athletic director announced his retirement.
During the summer, the group announced it was disbanding.
That was then. But last Friday, Lee Habeeb of Oxford, who had been the spokesman for the group, placed a half-page ad in the Oxford Eagle. In it he wrote a letter purportedly from the perspective of Rebel, the Ole Miss black bear mascot.
The effect was to make fun of the mascot, which the university adopted in 2010 following a student election of several mascot choices. Rebel was adopted after seven years with no mascot. The university did away with the gray-haired plantation mascot, Colonel Reb, in 2003. Grumbling about the decision continues with some alumni.
We don’t see what purpose is being served by bringing up this issue again. Mascots are for kids, and Rebel the bear is popular with the kids, and is a good marketing tool for the university.
The university has made major strides in recent years in improving both its academics and its national image. It has become a progressive, multicultural institution that reflects the demographics of our state and our region.
It’s time to move on.
About Chris Elkins
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