By James Jones/The Sun Herald (MCT)
BILOXI – An independent group is working furiously to keep one of Ole Miss’ oldest traditions alive.
The “Colonel Reb Road Tour” made stops at Pascagoula and Biloxi on Wednesday as part of its eight-city tour.
The mascot “Colonel Too,” owned by the Colonel Reb Foundation, signed autographs for fans at the Fillin Station in Biloxi and Thunders Tavern in Pascagoula.
The tour, which began Monday in Vicksburg, has been well-received by Ole Miss alumni and fans, according to Colonel Reb Foundation executive director Brian Ferguson.
“Our response has been absolutely tremendous,” Ferguson said. “Everywhere we go, Colonel Too can’t go five feet without being mobbed by fans.”
The Colonel Reb Foundation formed in 2003 after the original Colonel Reb mascot was no longer used at Ole Miss athletic events. A mascot company, which Ferguson didn’t name, made the Colonel Too mascot.
A new Ole Miss mascot was chosen in 2010, a Black Bear named Rebel, which upset some members of the school’s alumni base.
“The Black Bear has been poorly received,” Ferguson said. “I don’t think Ole Miss’ alumni and fans will ever take to the Black Bear. The reason we’re here is Ole Miss alumni still want Colonel Reb.
“The administration will have to sit down and make a compromise.”
Biloxi mayor and former Ole Miss football standout A.J. Holloway (1960-62) spoke to 20 people at the Fillin Station.
He voiced his displeasure at the school’s new mascot.
“Colonel Reb was born and raised at Ole Miss,” Holloway said. “That’s where he should be. I don’t know anything about the Black Bear.”
Ferguson has a solution for Ole Miss, which owns the rights to the original Colonel Reb.
“As soon as they bring back the original Colonel Reb, we’ll go away,” Ferguson said.
A dozen people attended the Pascagoula event.
This first leg of the tour ended Thursday night in Jackson. Further appearances, including some in the northern part of the state, are planned in July.