Ole Miss Introduces Landshark Tony As New On-Field Mascot
Ole Miss this weekend introduced Landshark Tony, the new on-field mascot that "replaces the black bear" and is a "nod to the football team’s 'Landshark Defense' that was coined" in '08 by former player Tony Fein, according to Kate Magandy of the Biloxi SUN HERALD. The school also "released new logos that incorporate the landshark logo, as well as new social media accounts." The mascot wears Fein's No. 47. Ole Miss is not dropping its Rebels nickname (Biloxi SUN HERALD, 8/12). In Alabama, Creg Stephenson notes the Colonel Reb mascot "stopped appearing on the Ole Miss sidelines" in '03 after the school made a "conscious effort to move away from symbols related to the Civil War." The Black Bear mascot "first appeared" in '10 following a vote by students, but it had been "universally unpopular with much of the Ole Miss fan base before being 'retired' last year" (AL.com, 8/11). In Mississippi, Jake Thompson noted the mascot debate has been a "polarizing one at Ole Miss for decades and finding the perfect balance amongst the fan base was a key priority" (OXFORD EAGLE, 8/12).
TRUST THE PROCESS? In Jackson, Maddie Lee noted this was the "culmination of a process that started in earnest when the Ole Miss Associated Student Body announced in September that it was going to conduct a poll testing the potential support behind changing" the Rebels' on-field mascot." Hattiesburg-based Rare Design "took the lead on developing logos and new branding and refining the mascot design." For the the actual costume, Rare Design "connected Ole Miss with Nascent Perspective Studios and Jessee Clarkson," who has "worked in the art departments of movies" including "Iron Man," "Watchmen" and "Alien vs. Predator." Ole Miss Associate AD/Sports Productions & Creative Services Micah Ginn said, “We wanted this to be a landshark that had never been seen before, a character who had never been seen before, and put a whole lot of detail and thought and intentionality into the design.” An Ole Miss spokesperson said that the "whole venture, including branding, a new website, costume design and multiple costumes, cost somewhere between $50,000 to 75,000." It was "privately funded by the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation." The Landshark launch committee "wanted the mascot to strike a balance between being intimidating but also not scaring young children" (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 8/12).
OFF THE MARK: USA TODAY's Michelle Martinelli wrote the mascot is "actually terrifying." Not in a "traditional 'Jaws' shark way," but in a "kind of weird and creepy looking, like the costume was haphazardly thrown together in the dark." It "doesn’t look like a real shark," and it "kind of looks like an iron" (USATODAY.com, 8/11). Twitter also was not very kind to the new mascot. AL.com's Michael Casagrande: "Landshark Tony sounds like a bookie with no time for your excuses." RedditCFB: "Ole Miss has a new mascot, and he's already in the running with Purdue Pete for the most nightmare-inducing in the country." Mississippi state Senator Chris McDaniel: "The political correctness dominating Ole Miss is embarrassing." The mascot also was derided by numerous fans of rival SEC teams (TWITTER.com, 8/11).