Thursday, September 16, 2010

Replacing the Colonel -- 38


The Colonel's alma mater is in the throes of a political correctness induced mascot replacement controversy. The University of Mississippi has been known as the Ole Miss Rebels since early in the last century. The Ole Miss mascot was a caricature of a southern planter named Colonel Rebel. A few years back, Colonel Rebel was banned from sports events, and this summer, the University officially "retired" Colonel Rebel as the school's mascot--supposedly in an effort to further distance the school from its racially insensitive past.

For the past couple of years, Ole Miss has been trying to find a replacement mascot. The problem is that when you are the Ole Miss Rebels, it's hard to find a mascot that reflects what that name infers without being odious to some. As a result, the handful of mascot candidates to which a year-long mascot search has been narrowed range from woefully lame to downright embarrassing. One candidate is actually two muppet characters named Hotty and Toddy (after the school cheer).

Really?

This Colonel has a better idea.

As much as the Colonel would dearly love to see Colonel Rebel return to his rightful place on the sidelines as the official mascot, he is ready to yield, and proffer another thought.

Why not have Chucky Mullins represent Ole Miss? Why not replace Colonel Rebel with Chucky Mullin's number 38?

For the five of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon, and who may not have a clue who Chucky Mullins was, allow the Colonel to elucidate.

Twenty years ago this weekend, in a game against Vanderbilt, Safety Chucky Mullins made a career and life as he had known it-ending tackle. He was paralyzed from the neck down. Even before his accident, Mullins was known for his never-say-die attitude and courage on an off the field. Not recruited by Ole Miss, Mullins told then coach Billy Brewer that if given a scholarship Brewer would not be sorry.

Turns out that was the understatement of the decade.

Mullins eventually returned to school and inspired all with whom he came in contact. His always positive attitude and can-do spirit made you almost forget he was confined to a wheel chair.

A year later, a pulmonary embolism ended Chucky Mullins' life, but not his legacy. The Chucky Mullins Courage Award is presented yearly to the Ole Miss football player whose conduct on and off the field best exemplifies the courage displayed by Mullins. For a few years, the award winner wore Mullins' number 38 jersey. After Ole Miss retired his number (the only other number retired by Ole Miss was Archie Manning's number 18), the award winner wore the number 38 prominently on the shoulder of his jersey.

At the end of the tunnel from the Ole Miss locker room sits a bust of Chucky Mullins; each player and coach touches the head of the man whose name means Courage before running on to the field.

Ole Miss doesn't need an embarrassingly lame mascot replacement. Ole Miss has Chucky Mullins and the number 38. Every other school in the nation has some sort of personage, animal, or plant for a mascot. Some schools share the same mascot. No other school honors a player hero as mascot.
This is a no-brainer.


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