19 June 2003
Retiring the Colonel
As predicted in this space last month, the University of Mississippi will sideline its mascot this fall. Officials at Ole Miss apparently want something "more intimidating" than the old Southern gentleman known as Colonel Reb.
At least, that's the story. I'd hate to think they bought into this mythology:
Ole Miss's reluctance to embrace integration in the '60s and its resistance to dump a minstrel song and jettison Confederocentricity in the '70s, '80s and '90s has hobbled this school's athletic progress for the last four decades. To understand the damage done, we need to look no further than three athletic programs that were equals on the football field in the early 1960s.
When both the Universities of Georgia and Alabama dumped "Dixie" and other vestiges of the Old Confederacy in the 1970s, the University of Mississippi's "Pride of The South" kept right on playing that inflammatory song. Ole Miss kept waving those rebel flags.
Georgia and Bama actively embraced change, as well as black students and athletes, and mostly furled their Rebel flags. Ole Miss mostly didn't. Guess what? Georgia won the SEC last year, and Bama has won several national titles since they banned the rebel flag and stopped playing "Dixie."
"Confederocentricity"? I have to admire any eight-syllable word that takes up only twenty letters, but otherwise, I ain't buying. As they say in the Big East, "I got your post hoc right here, pal."