Ole Miss retired their Colonel Reb mascot way back in 2003, amid concerns about the optics of having a genteel southern white man be the mascot for a school that already called their teams the Rebels.  The Rebels name stuck, of course, because when you have a tradition dating back to…uh, let’s see here…oh, 1936? That’s as far back as the Rebels nickname dates? Would have guessed it was longer, given the only argument to keep is tradition, all things considered, but anyway, when you have a tradition dating back to 1936 you don’t just toss it overboard.

So in 2010, a black bear named Rebel was introduced as a replacement mascot. Now, though, Ole Miss is going in a decidedly different direction with a rebrand, announcing that they’re replacing the bear with Landsharks.

Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi), will continue to be the “Rebels.” The Landshark will be its mascot – think Alabama Crimson Tide has an elephant as a mascot; Auburn Tigers have an Eagle.

Still, people know what an elephant is and what an eagle is. But what’s a landshark?

At Ole Miss, it began as gesture on the field during a game in 2008. It was a “fins up” gesture made by a Rebel player.

“At Ole Miss, ‘Landshark’ is a term adopted by the Rebel football team’s defensive unit. As part of that identity, defensive players will celebrate big plays by putting a hand to their forehead in the shape of a shark fin. A battle cry of “fins up” also contributes to the players’ persona. With the popularity of both the players and the “Landshark” celebration, Ole Miss fans and student-athletes from other sports have also performed the hand gesture as a tribute to the Rebels on the football team.”

Ole Miss owns trademarks to “Landshark” and “Fins Up.”

That gesture is the “thumb to forehead” move the football team performs, or that Marshall Henderson used to do when he wasn’t flipping off opposing fans. Landshark won in a landslide:

Ole Miss students voted overwhelmingly last week to adopt the Landshark. The vote was advisory to university leadership. In recent days, the Chancellor has received additional feedback from stakeholders prompting the move.

“Upon learning of the ASB poll of students, we sought input from the executive committees of the Ole Miss Alumni Association, the Staff Council, the Faculty Senate, and the Graduate Student Council, as well as from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Spirit Squad head coaches,” Dr. Vitter said.

“In each case, the support for the Landshark mascot was unanimous. In addition, the past presidents of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and the boards of the Alumni Association and M-Club enthusiastically endorsed the action of the Alumni Association executive committee.”

And hey, credit to Ole Miss, this is kind of fun. Frankly they should probably just go all in on Landsharks as their nickname, because again, Rebels only goes back to 1936. 1936! For a variety of reasons, that’s probably not happening any time soon, though, so at least we can enjoy the spectacle of a shark on the sideline of SEC sporting events. Plus, it’s a nice distraction from the current state of the Ole Miss football program.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled about the change:

Imagine someone at Ole Miss realizing that their morning was going to consist of reaching out to Marshall Henderson to help engender support for a rebranded mascot effort. That’s not a fun morning.

[Oxford Eagle]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.