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New Ole Miss mascot, Rebel Black Bear, makes his official debut

Apr 5, 2011, 2:06 PM EDT


Here’s the first known action photo of Rebel Black Bear, the University of Mississippi’s controversial new mascot, who took the place of the venerable Col. Reb following a student vote last year. Here’s the ursine mascot hob-nobbing with kids at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson, MS, earlier today. It’s probably no accident that the new mascot made its debut at a children’s hospital: consider these comments over at the Clarion Ledger, which ran the photo:

hmmm…the head is just big enough to be an easy target for a whiskey bottle this fall. — musiccityreb

Sad sad day. Will never support this thing that has been forced upon a fan base and school. — OleMissRebels

VOMIT…. — ambrose6

Not all the comments were negative, by the way; some liked the new mascot. But one can’t deny the controversy here; when one mixes politics and college fan loyalty, the results can be toxic. Col. Reb was ousted in 2003 when the university decided he was too representative of negative Southern stereotypes. The school went without a costumed mascot until last year, when a vote of the student body produced Rebel Black Bear.

Many Ole Miss fans claim, however, that the vote was rigged, and/or did not fairly represent the student body. There is a (doomed) movement afoot to bring back Col. Reb, and another popular choice, Admiral Akbar from Return of the Jedi, was nixed after an attack by attorneys from Lucasfilm.

Photos of the new costume leaked last month, but today was the debut of the Rebel Black Bear with someone actually inside the costume.

Video here.

From the Ole Miss athletic site:

Rebel’s tour will continue Wednesday at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis for the organization’s “Sports Day.” He will be joined by other mascots from the region, including the Memphis Redbirds’ Rockey the Redbird.

“Emotionally connecting with children and positively impacting our communities are top priorities for Rebel,” said Michael Thompson, Ole Miss senior associate athletics director for communications and marketing. “I can’t think of a more important place to introduce him than at these awe-inspiring facilities that touch the lives of so many.”

As opposed to introducing him at an Ole Miss football game, where his oversized head can be touched by various thrown objects.

Yep. Never before has a bear been so controversial. The person inside the costume will have to be a very brave soul. Or a bomb disposal robot.

Rebel (the black bear) has arrived, and here’s the photo to prove it [Clarion Ledger]

  1. oxpatchreb - Apr 7, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Let me be the first to congratulate Rebel on his birthday. Like some births, this one was complicated, difficult, scary and worrisome. But similarly, the outcome was well worth the wait and worry. I think Rebel will become a great addition to a rich, full, wonderful experience at Ole Miss. With the loss of controversial, misunderstood and misinterpreted symbols and traditions, comes the addition of newer, fresher more appealing symbols and traditions. Traditions, after all, have to start some where. Everything at Ole Miss was new at some point and in 10 or 20 years, Rebel the Black Bear will be as beloved and ingrained in our history and culture as CR was in the past.

    This is a new era in Ole Miss culture, history, tradition and family. I lament the loss of our old friend CR. He did his time with stoic grace and infectious enthusiasm for our school. But perhaps, society changed around him in ways he could not embrace. And now, the torch is passed to our young Rebel. I enthusiastically support him for the good of our school, our family and our future. I highly suggest that the rest of the Ole Miss Nation do so as well. The rest of our culture, heritage, history and social context are intact, and shall remain so. Let go of the worry and angst over losing “everything that we stand for”. No one is going to bulldoze confederate graves, tear down the Lyceum or change our name to The Mississippi Vanilla’s. We will ALWAYS be Ole Miss, we will ALWAYS be the center of Southern grace and hospitality and people from all over the country will always leave Oxford in slack jawed amazement at how addictive and entrancing this place can be.

    Relax, have a cocktail, sit and swing on the front porch for a spell. This “problem” will pass. The world will keep spinning, the Rebels will continue to pursue excellence on and off the field and soon, we’ll have only good things to show the rest of the country from here on out.

  2. oxpatchreb - Apr 7, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    My official position on RBB remaining as posted above, I’d like to address a couple of MSNBC issues in a separate comment.

    First, thanks for posting the comments left by idiots, morons and a-holes and only mentioning the positive reactions in a glancing, almost dismissive one liner. Itching to stir up the rabble are we?

    Second, Admiral Akbar was a joke. LITERALLY a joke cooked up by imaginative, snarky and cooky kids at OM. It was a genius move in my estimation. It generated some much needed laughter from self deprecating humor about the issue (which ESPN picked up on, btw) while simultaneously allowing the knee jerk, reactionary crowd to publicly humiliate themselves by criticizing an impossible outcome. It wasn’t dropped because Lucas threatened to sue, it was dropped because it was a joke. Is your sarcasm meter broken? Awww.

    Third, what’s with the attitude about how Rebel was released? It’s brilliant. Take the bottles, cups, 4 letter words and shoes out of the hands of the trouble makers and do some good for young sick kids at the same time. Don’t hate because Michael Thompson has some marketing savvy. Trust me, the idiots will their chance to embarrass the rest of us come September 3rd (our first home game) against BYU.

    And finally, can ya’ll at least TRY to come off supportive of some of the changes and progress we’re making? It’s hard work forcing people (albeit an ever shrinking minority) who are ignorant of progress to accept change for the better without national media sources sprinkling some stank on our efforts. Mmmmkay?

  3. iammslegend - Apr 7, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    The comments that this article highlighted are from a vocal minority with an agenda and from fans of our Rival school who will always take jabs at the Flag Ship University whenever they get a chance. So please don’t read this and think it’s the mood of all Mississippians, I’m pretty sure you all probably understood that to be that case anyway, but it has come to my understanding that people from outside of Mississippi have a different view of us………LOL