After months of deliberation, likely thousands of new Ole Miss Rebel mascot suggestions, and a few hours of thought, the student-led Ole Miss Rebel Mascot Selection Committee has released a group of new mascot concepts. A few are acceptable, some are downright bizarre, and none are altogether on an "oh hell yes let's do that" level of awesome. Most, though, show some level of creativity, dedication to the image and aura of Ole Miss, and an understanding of the importance of a positively received and widely recognized mascot.
If you follow the provided link, you'll see a brief explanation of the selection process thus far, an introduction to the concepts, and this charge:
We want your reaction to all of these elements so we can decide which concepts to pursue further.
Oh, you do? Well, here goes.
Hotty And Toddy
First, all this seems to be is a conceptual name for a pair of mascots as opposed to an actual conceptual mascot.
According to the description, "[n]othing says Ole Miss like" the words "Hotty Toddy." Ubiquitous, unique, and universally loved by all students and alumni of Ole Miss, the phrase and it's accompanying chant and cheer is an interesting source of inspiration for a mascot (or mascots). After that, it all goes downhill:
This mascot concept would bring those words, and the emotions connected to those words, alive in a pair of lovable characters. The pair may be animals or original "muppet-like" characters, but completely unique to Ole Miss. They can get as spirited and excited as any Rebel fan, and they love to pump up the crowd. And once we win the game, they will gladly be gracious hosts, inviting the other team to come back for more!
So there's no real description for what "Hotty" and "Toddy" would be, except for the fact that they could be a pair of animals or, why the hell not, puppets. To further the vagueities, these mascots would "love" to pump up the crowd, naturally in direct opposition to the mascot tradition of a staunch disdain for crowd up-pumpage, and be "gracious hosts" or our opponents(?). So, as I said, this is really just a conceptual name bolstered by generic and, frankly, dumb descriptions. Hotty and Toddy could be a pair of narwhals for all we know, because all we're told is that there would be two of them, they'd love to pump up the crowd, and they'd be nice to our enemies (fuck that, by the way).
Point is, the nomenclatural concept is actually quite nice, but the lack of any real description makes me wary of the idea.
Rebel the Black Bear
If you thought "Hotty" and "Toddy" were interesting mascot names, prepare to be underwhelmed. Just about everything from here on out is named "Rebel X" or "Rebel the X" or "X the Rebel Y from Z." As far as a mascot goes though, one could hardly do worse than a bear. Bear's command respect. They're large, ferocious, strong, and frightening. They also look hilarious when they ride tricycles. Black bears are, in fact, native to the state of Mississippi and are featured fairly regularly in the cultural traditions of the state, namely in literature. William Faulkner's most famous novella, The Bear (incorrectly categorized as a "short story" by the Mascot Selection Committee--tsk tsk), features a legendary, widely hunted bear living in the woods of Yoknapatawpha County named "Old Ben". So you've got the native and cultural elements tied into a fierce-ass creature to begin with and it seems like a natural selection for a mascot.
Of course, there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. The right way would be both an anthropomorphic guy-in-a-bear-costume type deal along with a real, living, breathing, scary and angry black bear living in an on-campus habitat that is trotted out before football games--sorta like what LSU has in Mike the Tiger. The wrong way? Teddy bears. Lots of 'em.
Rebel Blues Musician
Who thinks this stuff up? I know and love the blues and its cultural impact. And I feel a great deal of pride with its origins being in my home state. But how in the hell do you make a mascot out of a blues musician and have it not look corny and, frankly, like a caricature of a rural, black Mississippian. If we did this, we'd be going from a guy who looks far too much like a member of the 19th Century, landed, Southern gentry to a guy who looks far too much like the grandkid of someone owned by the former. I mean, what would he look like? He'd be black, disheveled, grinning, somewhat garishly dressed, toting a guitar, and wearing sunglasses and some sort of hat. Ridiculous, you say? C'mon, is it? We'd just be trading one stereotype for another with a somewhat more positive connotation.
Rebel the Cardinal
If we wanna be Louisville, sure. Let's just make sure our bird mascot doesn't have teeth (because, get this, birds don't actually have teeth). And the history/tradition element is alive and well with this one:
The Cardinal Club is a venerable campus organization dating back to the 1930’s. This student spirit group is tasked with rallying the Ole Miss Family at athletic events and bringing excitement to the games. Historically, the Cardinal Club members have also served as game day hosts, welcoming the visiting team. The cardinal concept would marry the Ole Miss school color, cardinal red, with the strong Rebel spirit and tradition of our students and fans.
So there's that. We could do worse than a Cardinal, so I'm not entirely against it.
The Rebel Fanatic
So the Philly Phanatic with red hair? Is that what you're going for here? Thing is, the Philly Phanatic is kind of an asshole anyway. He completely holds a monopoly over the Philadelphia mascot scene, shoving the little guys (i.e., Green Man) aside and around quite callously. This really isn't the image we need to portray withour mascot. But, just to toss ideas around, what would this mascot really look like? Again, with the Muppets:
With that in mind, envision a creative and original character (think Jim Henson, muppet-like creation) that embodies the fanaticism of the Ole Miss faithful.
We get it; Jim Henson is from Mississippi. That doesn't mean Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog need to be our muses regarding this mascot SNAFU. Just as "Hotty and Toddy", the Rebel Fanatic is a naming concept more so than an actual mascot concept.
Rebel the Horse
If we're going to go equine, let's go with a mule. Or a zebra (it promotes diversity). /that'sracistgif'd
And how's this for a stupid tie-in to history/tradition?
When the University of Mississippi was formed in 1848, the charter was delivered by horse.
Really? A document penned in the 1840's was delivered via horseback? They didn't use a car? Helicopter? If the notion that something involving the formation of the university was carried out using the most practical and readily available means of the time is the best history/tradition tie-in you can muster, then you might as well just leave it out of your justification.
Rebel Land Shark
I thought "landshark" was one word. Anyway, this one has some actual, organic, Ole Miss-centric element to it. For those who don't already know,
The Rebel Land Shark concept is based on a tradition begun by the late Rebel football player Tony Fein, whose "Fins Up" hand motion has already caught fire with Rebel fans.
The defensive players over the past few years have, as a result, given themselves the "landsharks" moniker. Such quirky, homespun little nicknames are where teams like the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Alabama Crimson Tide got their names. And, for those who would suggest a shark is inappropriate for a team in Mississippi, I say that it's somewhat more appropriate than a tiger in Louisiana, an elephant in Alabama, or a purebred dog of any sort in Starkville. The biggest issue I have with a shark, though, is the difficulty to anthropomorphize a gigantic, carnivorous fish. I just don't see it working out without looking incredibly stupid and (PUN INTENDED) a bit like a fish out of water;) ;) !!! HAHAHA!
Rebel Lion (Rebellion)
Hey! We'd have the mascot name in our blog's title! That'd be neat. Aside from that, this conference doesn't need a fourth feline mascot. No intellectual property concerns from the university either because we were here first. WIN!
Hey, Student Mascot Selection Committee, whoever sent this in to you was fucking around. I know there's a voodoo element to "mojo," and I know there's a Muddy Waters song and such involved, but this is definitely a joke. Kthx.
The Rebel Riverboat Pilot
Super dumb. What is so cool about a dude who drives a damn boat for a living? I get the Mississippi river symbolism here, but such symbolism is lost on a state like Mississippi, especially when riverboat pilots are concerned, due to Mark Twain's literature planting such imagery squarely within the confines of Missouri. I swear, some people are thinking way too hard about trying to link some sort of history or geography or cultural element to the mascot. It's just a fucker in a suit who is supposed to do goofy shit and take pictures with kids, not teach us a significant lesson about the history of the region. Shit.
Just read this shit:
The Titans were the original Rebels. Prometheus, one of the Titans in Greek mythology, was a true Rebel who opposed Zeus, standing up for those who were not strong enough to stand up for themselves. This willingness to do the right thing, regardless of the cost, is the essence of being a Rebel. Ole Miss graduates are Titans of industry, business, politics, sports, music, art and literature. All Ole Miss fans have enjoyed game day surrounded by the classic Greek architecture of the campus, and the Lyceum’s ionic columns are internationally recognized symbols of the strength and power of the University of Mississippi. Similarly, the Rebel Titan is strong enough to bear the weight of the world, and, like Prometheus looking to the future of mankind, the Rebel Titan looks with confidence to the grand and glorious future awaiting the Ole Miss Rebels.
Like I said, some people are trying way too hard here. I'm surprised this wasn't mentioned because, hey, it's built in Mississippi! That's it. I'm done.
So, as you can see, there are some good ideas, some okay ideas, and some really, really bad ideas. Your thoughts?