Rebel Black Bear tried hard to win over fans, even the ones who ran away screaming

Published 9:00 am Monday, October 2, 2017

A couple years after the University of Mississippi selected the black bear as its mascot there was a pep rally on the Square to kick off the new Ole Miss Rebels football season.

Knowing my then 4-year-old granddaughter liked to watch cheerleaders and pretend she was one herself, I brought her to her first pep rally.

Her eyes lit up when she saw the glittery pom-poms and she danced and twirled around. One of the cheerleaders was even kind enough to step out of line and dance with her. She laughed and laughed and then screamed.

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The Rebel Black Bear was walking toward us. It was the first time she had seen him and she wasn’t impressed. In fact, she was terrified. She turned around and attempted to run away. I scooped her up and tried to convince her he was a nice bear and tried to get her to look at him as he shook hands with other children.

She wasn’t having it and spent the rest of the pep rally hiding behind me. We left early.

She‘s 7 now and has gotten over her fear of the Ole Miss mascot and will now timidly shake his hand when she sees him and has even allowed me to take a photo or two of her standing next to him.

I have nothing personally against Rebel Black Bear. He tried his best to win people over, but it was just never a good fit. There was no connection no history.

The recent vote by the Associated Student Body showed a good majority, 80 percent of the more than 4,000 students who voted, would prefer the Landshark over the Rebel Black Bear as the Ole Miss mascot.

That makes more sense to me. While it‘s more of a recent tradition, the Landshark holds a deeper meaning for Ole Miss fans. The Landshark has the connection to Ole Miss that the bear never had and the ASB feels it‘s a better representation of the school.

And let’s be honest, Ole Miss stands to make a whole heck of a lot more money on all the cool stuff it could sell with the Landshark as its mascot. Who wouldn’t want a shark fin hat to wear to games?

I’m not sure a huge shark would be any less scary for small children but hopefully, should Ole Miss decide to follow the students’ request, those who design the mascot can make his face look a little less like it wants to eat your face off rather than shake your hand.

Personally, I would like to see the mascot be James Dean. Come on, it would be funny! People could wear leather jackets and slick their hair back. Girls could wear poodle skirts. However, most of the younger folk probably have no idea who James Dean is and wouldn’t be as tickled about it.

I hope the university takes the vote seriously and considers changing its mascot. No offense Rebel Black Bear, but you’re just not Ole Miss enough. And hearing the “Jaws” theme song at football games would be kind of cool.

Fins up!