The final chapter of the Ole Miss mascot search

The sports media’s football coverage in August has focused almost exclusively on the NFL to the exclusion of the fast-approaching college season. This is a small attempt to balance that coverage by taking a concluding look at a story that started to gain steam during the 2010 college football season.

On Saturday, September 3rd, the Ole Miss football team will take the field in Oxford with something they haven’t had since 2003: a mascot. The school’s teams will continue to be known as the Rebels, but after officially retiring Colonel Reb in ’03, the Rebel Black Bear now will represent Ole Miss squads on the field.

While Mississippi’s black bear population recently has been on the rise, particularly in the Delta region, the selection of the Rebel Black Bear was something of a second-best option, at least for a vocal subset of Ole Miss students and others watching off campus. This pre-selection video highlights the one-time top contender:

As the video suggested, copyright law of some variety formally took Admiral Ackbar out of the running, he surely would have made one of the most interesting and creative mascots in college football. Geekery aside, it also would have been a great marketing opportunity for George Lucas & co.

By dumping Col. Reb, Ole Miss distanced themselves from some of the school’s decidedly Confederate trappings, a motive that also drove revisions related to their fight song, “From Dixie With Love.” Students traditionally had concluded the song by chanting “the South will rise again.” Instead, “the Ole Miss student government passed a resolution suggesting the chant be replaced by the phrase, ‘To hell with LSU.'”