Opinion – 6/20/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2003

"I Ain’t Joking…" by Jim Beaver

For additional opinions and articles,
pick up the 6/20/03  issue of The Panolian

How About the Ole Miss Kudzus?

In an attempt to pre-defend anything that follows, I will start by saying, "I’m not from here."

The times, they are a-changing.

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Colonel Reb, who has served as the mascot for Ole Miss since the 1930s is being booted off the field. Although he will probably be seen through this year’s football season, it is likely he’ll be phased out shortly thereafter.

I’m not sure what will be the biggest contest this season – Eli Manning chasing the Heisman or Colonel Reb staying as mascot. It’s going to be fun being on the sidelines this season.

Whether this be a race issue or just an attempt to look more fierce in the eyes of the opponent, Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone has announced that the southern gentleman will be replaced by a more up-to-date (whatever that means) image. He says the old man with a cane doesn’t represent anything athletic and is not the image that the athletic department is trying to project.

That might be a good point, but in comparison, what in the world is a "Crimson Tide"? And what does a clumsy gray elephant have to do with a mean image. Even a mouse can scare an elephant. Hey, how about the Ole Miss Mouses?

A huge controversy now looms over the issue. Fans and alumni seem to be split over the issue.

Some say it doesn’t matter. Some say they will leave the school if the mascot stays. Some say it has kept away many non-white students.

The race card has been dealt. That strikes me kind of funny, as I have discovered that a black man by the name of Blind Jim Ivy was the model for the Colonel Reb mascot.

Many argue the mascot has nothing to do with race. It’s about tradition. Heritage.

The world today is hung up on being politically correct. I hate the term and hope never to be caught in that net.

Let’s look at a few of the other fierce (and not-so-fierce) mascots in the SEC, in order of ferocity:

1. Florida Gators – You have to admit they are mean critters.
2. Tigers. The mascot that represents both LSU and Auburn puts the fear of God in all opponents.
3. Arkansas Razorbacks. I hate the squeelin’ nose and the funny little red caps, but I sure don’t want to face one in the woods.
4. Bulldogs of Mississippi State and Georgia. No chance against the afore mentioned, but still a formidable opponent.
5. Volunteers of Tennessee. This guy carries a gun. Hmmmm. Politicallly correct? Well, probably for Tennessee;
6. Vanderbilt Commodores. Again, hmmmm. Another historic patriotic symbol.
7. The Kentucky Wildcats can be shot or mauled by any of the above, unless rabid, like they get sometimes.
8. Game Cock of South Carolina. These birds can whip up their spurs when roused.
9. Last on the list is the Crimson Tide and the elephant. I still don’t understand this one. Still, a mouse, and sometimes an old man with a cane can scare off this big boy.

After looking at the above more closely, replacing the traditional mascot at Ole Miss sounds pretty silly to me. Some people are just never satisfied. Others are born to raise issues and make controversy.

How about the Ole Miss Kudzus.

If the Colonel is going to be replaced, kudzu is the toughest thing I can think of that represents the south. You can’t stop it or kill it. It’s politically correct, too.

I ain’t jokin’ with you!

(Jim Beaver is publisher of The Panolian and can be reached at publisher@panolian.com)


(Jim Beaver can be reached by email at: publisher@panolian.com