We all enjoy poking fun at our in-state brethren with misled allegiances to the University of Mississippi (umiss). They must enjoy it, or they wouldn’t make it so easy for us. For the last few years, one particularly easy target is their mascot change to the umiss Black Bears. I honestly believe we enjoy the “Bears” thing (Yogi Bear, Care Bears, Pooh Bear, Teddy Bears, Sugar Bear, etc.) more than it actually bothers them. Recently, however, I saw a thread in a rivalry group on Facebook discussing the connection between umiss and the bear — how it could be considered traditional.
umiss fans, while actually hating the bear, of course, defended it with the famous story of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1902 Mississippi bear hunt. They also asked what exactly the connection between a bulldog and a cowbell was. I explained it thusly:
Everyone’s surely heard the story of the cow (agricultural college and all) wandering onto the field back in the 40’s during the MS A&M/umiss game. The Dawgs won, so they kept the cowbell as a tradition for good luck.
Everyone has probably also heard the story of President Teddy Roosevelt’s bear hunting trip to Mississippi. Didn’t find any wild bears to shoot, so some “rebels,” wanting to show the President a good time, brought a bear in and tied it to a tree. He refused to shoot it, and the tradition of the “Teddy” bear was born. umiss kept the tradition of lining up an easy score for people they wanted to show a good time.
Political cartoonist Clifford Berryman immortalized the event with this cartoon that originally ran in the Washington Post.
So… That’s how they now want to identify themselves? They have taken for their mascot the bear that was too sorry to shoot.
Somehow, now that I think of it in that light, it just seems perfect. A stroke of genius, really.
In the comments section below, please submit your suggestions for captions for the Bully and Colonel image at the top of this article. I’ll redo the picture, possibly with some school colors and include the winning caption in the image. Remember, I’m looking for “getting under their skin,” not “hitting below the belt.” Keep it classy.