OXFORD – Land sharks, toddies and bears – oh, no!
If there’s a consensus around Oxford about the candidates to replace Colonel Rebel as the sidelines mascot for the University of Mississippi’s athletic teams, it’s “none of the above.”
“None of them is right,” said Linda Kinniburgh of Oxford. “Bring back Colonel Rebel.”
A student committee has been leading the effort to design a new mascot since February.
Colonel Reb was removed from Ole Miss sidelines in 2003 after criticism that the caricature often seen as a plantation owner bore racial overtones that did not match current reality. University administrators say the names “Ole Miss” and “Rebels” will not change.
“I understand all this effort for a new mascot, the political correctness, but I just miss the tradition,” said junior Chris Rippon of Oxford. “I’d rather have nothing on the field without the Colonel.”
Freshman Shaquelle Broadnax of Carrollton, Texas, an African-American, echoed, “They’ve been the Rebels all this time, so why change the mascot now?”
Among nearly 20 people contacted Friday by the Daily Journal in Oxford and on campus, none had a strong affinity for any of the three finalists.
“If I were forced to choose, I’d choose the bear, because it seems more in line with other mascots around the nation,” said junior Caleb Herod of Oxford.
Daniel Stamatis of Pearl favored the Land Shark as “better than the other ones” but said he’d rather have Colonel Rebel back.
Emily Tynes, an office manager in Oxford, said the Hotty Toddy character strikes her as “just a frat guy. Who needs more of them?”
One university employee expressed fear that the effort to not be offensive would backfire.
“I’m concerned about major donors discontinuing their giving because of it,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified because of her position with the school. “We’ve become too politically correct.”
More than one student suggested making a symbol of Oxford’s favorite son.
“Ole Miss is kind of known for William Faulkner, right?” asked Nathanael McKenney, a student from Honduras. “If you’ve see a picture of him, he looks just like Colonel Reb, so why not just say it’s William Faulkner?”
Voting on the three finalists continues at mascot.olemiss.edu for students, faculty, staff memebers, registered alumni and football season ticket holders through 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal