By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
Students at the University of Mississippi voted last week to initiate the creation of a new on-field mascot to replace Colonel Rebel, which was retired by the administration in 2003. Critics viewed the character as representative of Old South plantation society, while supporters emphasize that Colonel Rebel is based on Blind Jim Ivy, a black man who was a popular campus fixture in the 1930s.
Sparky Reardon, dean of students and assistant vice chancellor, visited with Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens about the process ahead to create a new mascot.
Q: Given that Colonel Rebel is still going to be visible as a university-owned trademark, what can the Ole Miss family expect from a new on-field mascot?
A: That it will be representative, fun, and, hopefully, something that children, students and alumni will embrace. There will be a process, and we will take information and input from folks. We’re already getting tons of suggestions. We hope whatever it is will be something the students will embrace. After all, when the last mascot was unveiled in 1978, the students didn’t like it, either.
Q: What ideas for the new mascot – either awesome or awful – have you seen or heard so far?
A: From kudzu to cottonmouths to snapping turtles, bears, mules, and lions – those are things we’ve just heard informally; we haven’t even started the process yet.
Q: What was the story behind Roxanne Boulder?
A: I plead the 5th – never heard of it. By the way, it was Roxanna.
OK, there were some students around 1971 or ’72 who ran a rock as Homecoming Queen. Her slogan was, ‘Don’t take me for granite.’ She actually made appearances at Greek houses; she was rolled around in a wheelbarrow. As for votes – well, had she been human, she would have been Homecoming Queen.