October 14th, 2010
07:45 PM ET

Ole Miss goes with a bear; Georgia has another Uga

He is no Admiral Ackbar, but Rebel Black Bear will do for the University of Mississippi.

Mascot changes can be a serious business in college sports. Viewers of ESPN got a taste of this earlier this year, when the sports network ran a spot about some University of Mississippi students who were trying to nominate "Star Wars" character Admiral Ackbar to represent Ole Miss' teams.

Ackbar backers will be distressed to know their guy didn't make it. On Thursday, the Ole Miss Rebels announced they are going with a bear.

That's Rebel Black Bear, to be exact. He succeeds Colonel Reb, whose goatee and garb conjured images of the Old South. Ole Miss has been without an on-field mascot since 2003, when Colonel Reb was benched. With Ole Miss left as the only Southeastern Conference school without such a mascot, students pushed for a replacement.

A student-led selection committee chose Rebel Black Bear over fellow finalists Rebel Land Shark and Hotty Toddy after reviewing extensive polling of students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders.

The committee’s website notes that the stories about Mississippi’s black bear “have been shared for generations,” and that novelist and Mississippi native William Faulkner wrote a story called “The Bear,” in which the bear Old Ben “stands as a symbol of pride, strength and toughness.”

The school always insisted it would keep the Rebels nickname – and that name inspired the well-publicized effort by some students to draft Ackbar, the squid-faced leader of the Rebel Alliance in “Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi.”

But not everyone was sold on Ackbar representing Ole Miss, including, reportedly, Lucasfilm. Ackbar wasn’t even one of the final 11 choices put forward by the committee this summer.

The school expects to start using Rebel Black Bear on-field in 2011.

Mississippi isn’t the only SEC school celebrating a mascot succession. The University of Georgia is expected to introduce its latest bulldog mascot, Uga VIII, before the Georgia-Vanderbilt football game on Saturday in Athens, Georgia.

While Mississippi’s bear will be someone in a costume, the Ugas of Georgia are real bulldogs. Uga VIII replaces Uga VII, which died last year.

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Filed under: Mississippi • Sports
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Orange Sunshyne

    I think it's only appropriate that Ole Miss chose the Bear as a mascot seeing that they play Bama Saturday.
    They could be the Bear Bryants.
    Why Rebel Black Bear and not just plain old Rebel Bear?

    October 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clarence

      The Black Bear is the native bear to Mississippi. What's so wrong with the bear being what it is? I don't see anything wrong with the bear being referred correctly as a black bear, and the Rebel Black Bear is awesome! Ole Miss is very unique among most universities because they have the awesome courage to move forward and beyond the obvious phobia or taboo against including "Black" in the the name of a mascot, even when it is done so correctly. Congratulations Ole Miss! I am proud of you guys! You guys rock!

      October 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Southerner

    I can't believe that Colonel was considered "Old South." Even if he was, it doesn't matter! Are the Patriots going to have to change their mascot? Almost all of the founding fathers had slaves, so that's as much basis to change it.

    October 14, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. me

    Some facts about black bears.....
    Black Bears living in urban areas tend to get pregnant at younger ages & tend to be short tempered with their mates after copulating.
    During winter, black bears consume 25–40% of their body weight.

    Guess Ole Miss chose properly....

    October 15, 2010 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. SM_the_Bulldog

    Go Dawgsssss!! I love my UGA ..And shut up everyone who hates the mascots. Just because your University is not cool enough don't mean you should hate us.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. Donajam

    mmmmm. I could use some KFC right about now... or is the Colonel to Old South and a racist?

    October 15, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dale H

    I am from Mississippi. Grew up loving Ole Miss. This is the biggest f#%king joke. Instead of the Black Bears why don't they just call themselves the "Big Pu@%ies"? As usual, a select few are controlling the majority. If I graduated from there, I would be ashamed of the school mascot!!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. tomcat

    let em mess with BEVO!

    October 15, 2010 at 5:46 am | Report abuse |
    • RedassAg

      No need he already has no balls....

      October 15, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Allah Akbar

    Sad, sad day. No more trips to Oxford for me.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Allah Akbar

    Mississippi black bears are black. Why is the mascot brown?

    October 15, 2010 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. Clay Herring

    You guys are incrediable..... WHY Change something thats NOY BROKE? No one but you people that changed it wanted the Rebel gone. I will never go to a Ole Miss Game again. Bear Mascot? Now Ole Miss will be the biggest JOKE of the SEC !!!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. The Truth

    I wish Florida would bring back the live Gator. Maybe that would jump start their crappy program this year. Urban, start some of those 5 star running backs,let them take their lumps the rest of the season and next year will be so much better.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tomcat

    yep get rid of anything that may offend anyone. if it is related to the confederacy or civil war forget about it like it never happened. well jefferson offends me. he owned and slept with his slaves get his face off our money

    October 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tobie Baker

    Col. Reb has been gone since 2003. He was killed off, because other SEC schools told their recruits, "Ole Miss is racists, just look at their plantation owner mascot." So, it's pretty obvious that Ole Miss needed to do something to promote a better image for itself.

    October 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
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