A Magical Season So Far

It’s not easy being a fan.

Fans rally around their chosen sports teams, cheering them on from near and far, unable to affect the outcome of a game, often left despondent by a win that slipped through their very fingers.

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Love Thee, Notre Dame

What is it about the University of Notre Dame that evokes such passion?

People who love Our Lady’s University and those who abhor it can rest assured they share one thing — they aren’t sitting on the fence.

I graduated from a state school (Ole Miss — Hotty Toddy!!), so I know about rivals. We had our share of them, and we knew they “hated” us as much as we “hated” them.

But our SEC Conference was the uniting force.

If one of our rivals was playing a football bowl game against a team outside the SEC, why, we’d up and root for our rivals. We wouldn’t necessarily like it, but we’d do it.

Probably because Home and Family are strong concepts in the South.

Kind of like your momma telling you not to make fun of crazy Aunt Lulu behind her back because she’s family and Family Sticks Together.

Notre Dame has long prided itself on its independence. The drawback, of course, is independence equates separateness.

And for many who hate ND, separateness equates aloofness. Haughtiness. Exclusivity.

Anyway, I was poking around Twitter the other evening, the same day as ND former linebacker Manti Te’o held a news conference in Indianapolis. To further explain how he was a victim of “catfishing.”

And the media had a heyday with it. So did Twitter users.

Frankly, I was embarrassed by many of the comments.

What is it about a football player, a 21-year-old kid, that draws such rage? Such hatred?

I guess none of the tweeters had ever made a mistake. Done something that in retrospect they’d have done differently. ‘Fessed up earlier and taken their licks then.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that lures folks to strike out against others, to leave biting, cruel remarks without regard to the consequences.

Don’t they know the Internet is forever? That all their comments can be rounded up and will paint a picture of just who they really are? That someone they’re trying to impress — a potential employer or that cute girl in their Botany class — might just cast them aside when their true colors are revealed?

So while I understand rivalries on the athletic field, I guess I’ll never understand meanness. Hatred. Pettiness.

Or how trying to bring someone else low somehow elevates you.

It doesn’t. Never has, never will.

Ole Miss’s new mascot

For those who haven’t heard, my alma mater Ole Miss has a new mascot, a black bear.

bear mascots

A bear? In Mississippi?

Yes, or so they say. Biologists estimate the number of black bears in Mississippi at 50 (max). This, despite the high density of black bears a century ago — witness Teddy Roosevelt’s “saving” a black bear while hunting in Sharkey County.

The bear is also a reference to native son William Faulkner’s short story of that name — but Faulkner’s bear has a ferocious and growling personality when black bears tend to be shy and easily frightened. Great, just what Ole Miss needs — a scaredy-cat mascot.

The rest of the SEC must be trembling in their boots.

And personality is just one of the problems with this mascot “election” and “selection”. Here are some more:

  • The Administration says the bear was chosen by vote of students, alumni, faculty, and staff. However, only 13,000 or so votes were cast, meaning most either didn’t like any of the options or refused to have anything to do with a “rigged” contest. Col. Reb (the school’s mascot since the 1930s) wasn’t even one of the choices!
  • The Administration says Colonel Reb was too representative of the “Old South.” However, it’s really a stretch to see any of the three contestants — bear, land shark, and two “Muppet-like” creatures to be known as Hotty and Toddy — as prototypes of the “New South.”
  • The Administration says Colonel Reb made recruiting of African-American students difficult. However, even as far back as 1996, the Ole Miss faculty was 20 percent black, and in 2002, black student enrollment totaled nearly 13 percent, mirroring that of the nation itself.
  • The Administration says Colonel Reb is offensive. However, historians say the Colonel was modeled after a black man, Black Jim Ivy. Ivy was a fixture on the campus from 1896 until his death in 1955.
  • The Administration says the monikers “Ole Miss” and “Rebels” will remain. However, there is growing sentiment that they, like Col. Reb, will be brought to a slow (or swift) death. As one student was quoted, It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves the Rebels and have a bear mascot on the field.

The backlash against this change has already started (and only threatens to increase). A “Save Col. Reb” petition is out there, as is a “Save Col. Reb” Facebook page and a Colonel Reb Foundation. One alum has posted his plea on YouTube; a Col. Reb is My Mascot tribute video is available as well.

Count me in! Whatever it takes, we need to stand tough together to STOP this brick-by-brick eroding of our traditions. Without our nickname, our songs, our mascots, our flag, what’s to differentiate Ole Miss from any other public university in the nation?

Who’s the mascot for anyway? The students. And if the students are so solidly behind Col. Reb, so be it.

I don’t think any of us can count on the suggestion that, if the black bear fails to garner support, the Administration will have to reinstate Col. Reb. More likely, they’ll simply leave us mascot-less, the way we’ve been for too many years already.

But why should we force the students to fight this battle alone? Perhaps it’s time for alumni to join in — and, in this age of shrinking state funding, hitting the university in its wallet via a cutback on donations is the best way I know how.

So what do you think, Rebels? ARE YOU READY???

Col. Reb, Ole Miss

Save Colonel Reb!

Don’t Kill Ole Miss, Part 2

You know, I just hate it when people carp and complain and criticize without offering any suggestions on remedying the problem at hand.

Therefore, I’m going to continue the discussion I started the other day regarding Ole Miss’s mascot, or more correctly, the absence of a mascot.

Here are my suggestions to waylay the death of my beloved alma mater:

  • Bring back Colonel Reb. I’m NOT talking about that cartoony caricature of a colonel that was used most recently. I’m talking about a real, live Colonel Reb. A male student with some athletic ability who can rally crowds with lots of spirit, somebody with class and dignity who can represent this University wherever its athletic teams go. I’m talking about someone who can liaison between the cheerleaders, the band, the students, and the alumni. And I don’t care whether this person is white, black, pink, or green — he should bleed “red and blue”!
  • Colonel Reb’s attire. Cheerleader-type slacks, perhaps in gray with gold stripes down the sides of the legs, and a matching gray top (long-sleeved for cold weather, short-sleeved for hot) with gold military-looking embroidered thin stripes across the chest.
  • Spirit. Admittedly, I haven’t been to a football game in years, but do we have anything to take the place of our Confederate Flag? I understand the administration banned it, claiming it was “offensive.” Personally, I don’t see it as anything more than a symbol of Ole Miss, not something of “white oppression.” Why, it’s no more offensive than Mississippi State snubbing Golden Retrievers in favor of the English Bulldog! But if fans can’t wave the flag, what can we use — red and blue pom poms maybe? Or red, white, and blue hand towels to twirl? Or those annoying Vuvuzela horns used at soccer games? Or maybe somebody can invent a noisemaker (like a kazoo) for us?
  • Songs. Okay, when did we eliminate “Dixie” from our song-list? Talk about taking away everything! Sigh. Since we no longer can play/sing this rousing song, perhaps it’s time to initiate a new tradition. How about the playing/singing of our Alma Mater before games or at halftime? I didn’t know until I graduated that we even had an Alma Mater! The words are beautiful; so’s the melody. It could be very moving if everyone learned the words, rose to their feet, and joined in together.

Here’s the thing, people. I’ve heard and read far too many complaints that spirit at Ole Miss is down, that those attending games are lifeless, that we have nothing tangible to bind us together, generation to generation. That’s unacceptable.

Tradition is a big part of life. Greek organizations have their traditions; religious denominations, countries, universities, and even families have theirs. Alums should be able to go back to their university and feel “right at home,” knowing the old traditions are intact and open to adopting some new ones.

I’ve said it before — people don’t choose or reject a university based on its colors, mascot, or traditions. They learn to embrace and love those traditions, often before they even go off to kindergarten. And if they can’t stomach them, they choose another place to further their education. That’s the beauty of freedom.

Don’t Kill Ole Miss!

I received something in my e-mail this morning and am still distressed over it.

It seems my alma mater, Ole Miss, hasn’t had a mascot on its athletic fields since 2003. That’s going on a decade, people!

We used to be the Rebels. Our mascot was a white-haired, suited-up Southern gentleman called Colonel Reb. Our main fight songs were “Dixie” and “Rebel March.” Our flag was the flag of the Confederacy.

So much has changed since I was a student.

And it’s not for the better.

Now I realize in this politically correct culture that certain things had to go by the wayside, but everything?

If I — raised in the North — could rally behind Southern traditions, could embrace them whole-heartedly, could (in short time) fall in love with this university, then anybody could.

Those who can’t should choose another school — period — rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

A similar thing happened at the University of Illinois a few years back when a very adamant minority convinced the administration that Chief Illiniwek, their student-portrayed Sioux mascot, was “offensive” and “racist.”

I didn’t think so. Still don’t.

But they banned the Chief, leaving the Illini without a mascot.

Just like us Rebels.

Recently, I received an online survey asking me to weigh in on the list of proposed mascots someone had come up with to represent Ole Miss. Talk about a joke! Who in their right mind could rally behind a horse or a lion or two goofy thing-a-ma-bobs named “Hotty” and “Toddy,” for cryin’ out loud??

It infuriates me that this great university has fallen to such depths. No wonder enrollment is down. No wonder students don’t feel any camaraderie there. No wonder alumni are frustrated and frantically searching for ways to inject life into an institution they love.

Some students at Ole Miss have even begun a campaign to select Admiral Ackbar as mascot. He’s got lasers, they say. True, but he’s also this gosh-awful ugly catfish-looking creature from Star Wars.

You can’t blame the kids for trying, but why mess with a good thing?

I don’t believe students choose a university based on its mascot. Nor do I believe they refuse to attend a university based on its mascot. Just take a look at some of the silly mascots on college football fields today — mules at West Point, blue devils at Duke, Stanford’s tree, Syracuse’s orange, the Ohio State buckeye.

Still, there’s something to be said for Tradition. Something to be gained by binding generation after generation with the same songs, cheers, mascots, and symbols.

Something to be mourned when traditions die.

Those who seek to abolish all traces of what Ole Miss stands for need to be stopped in their tracks.

And the only way I can think of to stop them is by hitting them where it hurts — their wallets.

So the next time that perky student calls to ask for your donation, politely tell them ‘No, not until today’s Ole Miss returns to the glory that was Ole Miss.’





Part of me really needs to rant about Notre Dame Football today.

They started out so good — walking onto the field arm-in-arm with Coach Charlie Weis and jumping out to a 14-0 early lead. You just couldn’t help thinking they meant business this time and were there to win, if not for Weis, then for the senior team members on Senior Day.

It wasn’t an easy game to watch. Some yo-yo decided to put the Ole Miss vs. LSU game on about the same time (different channels), so I found myself switching back and forth, trying to keep up with both of them. I probably could have recorded one for later, but you know that’s just not the same!

Anyway, what I saw of the Irish game saddens me. It breaks my heart to see this once-proud tradition brought to its knees. It breaks my heart that this group of fine senior players once again falls short of expectations, and a game that by all predictions should have been a victory ended up in a loss.

It breaks my heart that everybody is grumbling — students, alumni, fans, observers. It breaks my heart that a fine person like Coach Charlie Weis will probably have to take the fall. It breaks my heart that there’s still one more tough game on the horizon (Stanford, next Saturday), and bowl possibilities are looking dimmer — and certainly less illustrious.

Sports fans tend to be fanatics. They’re 100 percent behind their team when they’re winning, yet when they’re losing, they can’t distance themselves fast enough. Wonder why that is?

Sure, everybody likes a winner, but didn’t we all learn back in kindergarten that not everybody can be a winner? At least, that used to be the lesson taught. Unfortunately, now it seems that everybody gets a trophy, everybody gets recognized for something, nobody has to suffer “the agony of defeat.”

I read somewhere that one school is offering classes in How to Lose. Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea.

Football: Ya win some, ya lose some

I refuse to talk about Notre Dame football today. Suffice it to say, I’m as angry and disappointed as gazillions of other Irish fans — and I hadn’t even bet any money on the outcome!

The coaches, the students, the alums, the nay-sayers — everybody has an opinion about what went wrong in Notre Dame’s 27-22 loss to No. 8 Pitt yesterday, as well as what needs to happen to fix things before they get worse. Some are quick to suggest firing Coach Charlie Weis; others point blame at the program itself, or at the refs, or the penalties, or whatever.

So really, there’s no sense in my weighing in with an opinion. I’m not a coach; I’m not a player; I’m not an owner.

On second thought, let me just say one thing, then I’ll move on to something else — you can’t expect to win football games by spending the first three quarters of the game in a foggy slumber! Since South Bend and Pittsburgh are in the same (Eastern) time zone, that wasn’t the problem (maybe it was having to leave campus on a Friday the 13th??). Regardless, the team struggled through three quarters, racking up only 3 measly points, before attempting to come alive following two touchdowns by dynamic wide receiver Golden Tate.

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

A 15-yard chop block penalty, along with a dubious fumble call on quarterback Jimmy Clausen, brought things to a screeching halt, and the Irish have to make do with a 6-4 record while awaiting two more games this season.


On a much happier note, anybody watch my Ole Miss Rebels beat the tar out of a fine Tennessee team on nationwide TV Saturday??

Posting their first win against the Vols since 1983, the Rebs struck hard and fast, eventually claiming a 42-17 victory AND clinching bowl eligibility for the second straight year!

This was an Ole Miss team that looked fabulous and played as one, with passion, guts, and determination. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the likes of quarterback Jevan Snead (only sacked once), Brandon Bolden (two touchdowns), and senior wide receiver Dexter McCluster (who posted all kinds of rushing records and went for four touchdowns, including a 71-yard beauty)!

Now let’s pray they do as well next week against LSU (at least the game’s in Oxford!) and in their last regular season game against cross-state rival Mississippi State. Go Rebs!


Lifelong learning

Let’s get one thing out of the way upfront — I’m not a Notre Dame alum.

Heaven knows, I wish I were, but all I am is the mom of a Domer — that, and a huge fan!! Shoot, I’ve even considered the possibility of enrolling in, say, the Graduate Program in Creative Writing, just so I could be a Domer, too!

I’ve always had a passion for education. I was one of those “weird” kids who simply loved school, not just because my friends were there but because in school, you learned stuff. I love the smell and feel of a book; I love being able to string words together so when folks read them, they go, “Yeah!”

When I was a kid, every week in the summer I’d go to the Library and check out a stack of books — as many as I could carry — then hurry home and immerse myself in wonderful, magical stories. Even today, there’s nothing better than getting lost in a novel and forgetting there’s a world with problems outside.

My undergrad education was at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi (Go Rebels!!), and my feelings for Alma Mater run oh so deep. I had a four-year Band scholarship, so participating in halftime shows and supporting the Red-and-Blue became deeply ingrained. Perhaps it’s the growing-up one does during the four years between 18 and 22; perhaps it’s the friends one makes at college. Whatever, I (and most of my fellow Rebs) feel an intense pride, unwavering loyalty, and profound gratitude to Ole Miss.

As the late Frank E. Everett Jr. (a UM alum) put it: “The University is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The University gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss.”

When My Favorite Domer was in elementary school, I returned to college (community college, this time) to pursue a new career in Web Design. I found, to my surprise, that I was an even better student than during my first go-round as an undergrad. I seemed to have an intuitive awareness of what material was important for me to learn, how to study and budget my time, how to access the help I needed, and I wasn’t afraid to approach my instructors, spend time in their offices, and soak up their advice.


Today’s buzzwords are “lifelong learning.” Yep, I’m a firm believer in that. As a Web Designer and Writer, I often run into something I’m unfamiliar with, and I constantly find myself having to learn new code and techniques or new ways of solving old problems. I pity people who don’t find learning enjoyable, or who think that once they’ve got a sheepskin, they’re finished.

So, while right now I can’t justify returning to academia for another degree, don’t count me out — I just might, one day!