Ole Miss

Ole Miss mascot options down to three

The process to select a new mascot for the Ole Miss Rebels will move forward next week with the release of a poll including depictions of the remaining three options.

Stakeholders, including alumni, students, faculty, staff and season ticket holders, will once again be asked for their opinions on the concepts on Oct. 6, according to a press release from the university. The poll will be located at www.mascot.olemiss.edu.

Mascot selection committee co-chair Margaret Ann Morgan, a sophomore from McComb, said the committee spent a great deal of time reviewing the potential concepts.

"Since the top five Ole Miss Rebel on-field mascot concepts were identified, the committee has been hard at work with the mascot professionals developing graphic depictions of each," she said.

Earlier in the selection process, focus groups made up of different groups within the Ole Miss community identified a number of characteristics that were vital to a new mascot.

The ultimate mascot should unify the Ole Miss community, have a Mississippi connection, be unique, adapt from the Grove to the game, fit the Ole Miss culture, project a proud image, be timeless and not trendy, have the ability to be active and appeal to children, the group decided.

The committee then eliminated two of the concepts based on the criteria. The Rebel Lion was eliminated because the committee felt that there was not a strong enough Mississippi or Ole Miss connection.

The committee also eliminated the Rebel Stallion due to logistical problems with having a live horse in the stadium or Grove.

"Though there was great enthusiasm for a live horse to lead the Ole Miss Rebels, we soon realized that the horse would in reality be present for a short time at the beginning of each football game," the committee stated. "Also, there are limitations concerning the horse functioning among the extreme crowds in the Grove. These facts would require a companion costumed horse mascot to be visible at the games, other sporting events like basketball games where horses are not allowed and at special events."

The idea of a costumed mascot horse did not have strong support from the students or in the focus groups. Based on the earlier poll, the Rebel Lion and Rebel Stallion were the fourth and fifth most popular concepts, so the committee was comfortable eliminating those options.

Depictions of the remaining three options -- the Rebel Land Shark, the Rebel Black Bear and Hotty Toddy -- will be released for public review as a part of the poll on Wednesday, and the committee said it has taken more time than expected to ensure the designs presented are respectful of Ole Miss culture. In fact, based on input from all groups within the Ole Miss community, the committee said it spent a great deal of time over the past few months discussing, reviewing, tweaking and re-thinking the Hotty Toddy concept, which has evolved from a pair of characters into one mascot.

"This concept has a strong tie-in to Ole Miss traditions; it is unique, and it has the potential to unify our fan-base," the committee said. "However, it is important that the ultimate concept be proud and in no way silly, so we have taken more time than anticipated to make sure the concept shown is as strong as it can be."

Morgan and Ty New, a senior from Olive Branch and co-chair of the committee, said they could not be happier with the success of the mascot development process, which began this past spring with a review of more than 1,000 suggestions from the Ole Miss community. From that list, the committee submitted 11 concepts to the Ole Miss community for input, and more than 13,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and season ticket holders responded to the first poll, with more than 96 percent of those participants responding positively to at least one of the concepts.

"It is our greatest desire during this selection period that all entities are aware of our process and remain well-informed of each decision being made," New said. "We thank everyone for their patience and support and are looking forward to the end result."