SPORTS EDITOR BLOG — It took over seven years to get it right, but the choice of the Bear as the on-field, on-court, on-site mascot at Ole Miss was a good one.I want to go on record first by saying I didn’t agree with the administration when it pulled Colonel Rebel from the sidelines early last decade and still don’t agree that a change had to be made. The reasons for the measure were unjustified from my standpoint and the desire to create a new mascot was done to appease a few rather than the masses. Nobody can convince me of anything different.
So while I don’t like the fact that Colonel Rebel had to leave, bringing him back once he was gone wasn’t going to happen either. I agree that Ole Miss had to move forward. True leadership involves making a tough decision and then sticking to it once it’s been made. Like it or not, Ole Miss got that part of the equation right. They didn’t go back and re-install the Col. after a major uproar. The focus remained on finding the right symbol to get behind. Again, I don’t like that this all happened, but I credit the administration for sticking to its guns and trying to work through the chaos.
To me the Bear was the best looking mascot to support. Black bears have started to gain numbers in the state, so it’s fitting that Ole Miss chose an animal that is back on the rise much like the football program has been under Houston Nutt. A few years ago, I joined a friend of mine on his property in Union in search of a black bear that had been seen in the area. As an Eagle Scout, scouring the woods looking for the large animal was right up my alley. We only found small traces of the bear rather than the actual animal, but it was still an exciting two hours spent in the woods.
The bear, in my opinion, will be loved by the kids in the future and he is easier to market for T-shirt companies etc. I can see those that enjoyed the Col. not liking the bear immediately, but in time I think this mascot has the ability to warm hearts much better than Hotty Toddy and the Landshark, which is a fad rather than a long-lasting tradition.
I’m not exactly sure when we will see the Bear on the sidelines — maybe Auburn or even at Homecoming — but it is good that some symbol is there again even if he’s not the one everyone wants. (October 14, 2010)