Ole Miss' Student Mascot Selection Committee has released the preliminary designs for the three finalists to replace Colonel Reb as the Rebels' on-field mascot. Are any of them Admiral Ackbar? They are not. Are any of them as inspired, original or guaranteed for instant and enduring renown as Admiral Ackbar? They are not.They are, in no particular order, a black bear, a "land shark" and a preppy, Duffman-esque beefcake known as "Hotty Toddy," which has been re-imagined as one character instead of a couple. There they are.
I have no dog in this hunt, but a few words on the abominable oxymoron that is the "land shark." In the first place, no species of shark has been anywhere near Oxford, Miss., since the late Cretaceous. Secondly, it's anatomically absurd. And not only is there no such actual organism as a shark that lives on the land, but there cannot conceivably be such a being, even as an anachronism. A "land shark" would bear none of the essential qualities – i.e. fins, swimming, gills – that define a shark as a shark. It's a contradiction in terms, like a four-sided triangle.
Maybe if it was just a shark instead of a land shark; you know, eagle mascots don't fly, but no one refers to them as a "ground eagle." When you take a shark out of the water and give it limbs and lungs, though, it ceases to be a shark. It's a dinosaur. What's wrong with the Rebel Raptor?
Not that any of that is going to matter, because the bear is going to win. Even if nobody listed "Rebel Bear" as their favorite among the initial list of candidates, its victory was inevitable. Large groups of people can usually be counted to come to a consensus over the most banal, least offensive choice that everyone can live with. The bear makes some geographic sense (the inspiration for the original teddy bear came from Mississippi), but mainly, it's the one option nobody will absolutely hate. Well, nobody except Stephen Colbert. But South Carolinians have no skin in the game, either.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.