I know most of the regulars around here think that the whole "symbols" and "traditions" arguments that many of our fans make is an utter and absolute joke. And they're right. So if you're new to the Red Cup Rebellion and you want to talk about how the removal of tradition is hurting our school, please take a moment and let me tell you how stupid you are.
I'm going to break down why this is not about the mascot so you can understand it: If your child had a big wart on the end of his nose and all of the other kids on the playground made fun of him, you might want to have the wart removed. Sure, you're the kid's family and you've always loved him just the way that he was, but you did it because it was what was best for the future of the kid. Colonel Reb, for as much as many of us loved him, was one of the warts on the face of our school and the administration felt like it was time for us as a school to move in a positive direction.
And before the name-calling begins I'll tell you about myself. I'm a lifelong Rebel. I attended Ole Miss and have two degrees from there. I am not a liberal. I don't hate the school. To the contrary, I LOVE my school. I love it so much that I'm willing to let certain things go like a silly guy in a foam suit because I want Ole Miss to be competitive both academically and athletically.
I agree with many of you that the administration mishandled the way they went about doing things. I don't think anyone likes thinking they've been deceived and many people did. I'm not one of those people but I can see their point of view when they say they think the mascot issue was done in an underhanded way. But sometimes people in a position of power do things that they think are best for us without consulting us first. They raise tuition without asking the students and their parents first. They remodel buildings without consulting with the alumni first. The mascot issue is just another one of those things. You should be glad they at least let us vote on what a replacement mascot was going to be because they didn't have to do that.
"Oh," I hear, "But there are so many people out there who are making fun of us for changing out mascot to the black bear. All of my friends from LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn are laughing at us."
Yeah. Those people are our rivals and it wouldn't matter what our mascot was. They'd be making fun of us with Colonel Reb because our mascot was racist and they'll make fun of the bear because it's something different from Colonel Reb. That's what rivals do. If the constant comments from others bothers you, you gotta learn how to let that nonsense roll off your back like water off a duck's. If they don't think it's bothering you then they'll quit doing it. Really, it's playground mentality for grownups.
We're not the only school to have changed our traditions. Stanford, Illinois, Syracuse, and Arkansas State have all removed Native American mascots. While Stanford and Illinois maintained their nickname, Syracuse dropped the moniker "Orangemen" and became the "Orange" and Arkansas State became the Red Wolves. Three of those four schools are much bigger than we are and they have all kept their fan following. I know it's hard to change what you've always known but sometimes you just have to do it. Many of us younger fans have only known Colonel Reb as the mascot. But it's past time to move on from that.
Guys, seriously, it's like you went to your parents' home one day - the home you grew up in and have always known - and they repainted the walls and got rid of your childhood teddy bear. It's still the same room but there are some things that are different. It's more modern and made to function better for the times we're living in. Are you going to stop speaking to your parents because they got rid of your teddy bear without your permission? Can you not function as an adult without a symbolic vestige of your childhood?
I hear so many people grumbling like children about all of these stupid symbols when in reality our university has made great strides to become a better school - and, news flash everyone, it is a school. I visited the campus for the first time in several years when I took my cousin up and I was very impressed with the improvements made on campus. Renovations everywhere. The Journalism School was so impressive that my very successful uncle who has super-high standards felt that it was a great place for his only child to attend school. Before visiting Ole Miss he didn't think anything could compare with Nebraska and Missouri's journalism schools but he really felt like the journalism school at Ole Miss was a quality place. And for those of you who are unaware, it's no longer a journalism department but its own school like the School of Engineering or the School of Liberal Arts.
I have a couple of qualms with how Dan Jones has handled a few (and I mean a very few) things but I think that overall he's done a fairly good job with managing the school itself. Boone, on the other hand, has done little to help our school's athletic programs. He's supposed to be managing the entire school's athletics and he's basically thrown his hands up in the air and shrugged like there's nothing he can do about it. I'm not willing to accept that.
So, please, stop bitching about the loss of symbols and traditions. There are plenty of other schools who have done the same and have remained (or even become more) successful. Right now we're not successful because the people who are running the show are inept. But the logic that a mascot or a song or a flag would make a difference in how we perform is about as ridiculous as thinking that wearing the same pair of underwear every day makes you successful at work.