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Bulldog (MSU Mascot)
Mississippi State University athletic teams are called Bulldogs, a name
earned and maintained over the decades by the tough, tenacious play of
student-athletes wearing the Maroon and White. The official school
mascot is an American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the
inherited title of 'Bully'.
As with most universities, State teams answered to different nicknames
through the years. The first squads representing Mississippi
were proud to be called Aggies, and when the school officially became
Mississippi State College in 1932 the nickname Maroons, for State's
uniform color, gained prominence. Bulldogs became the official title for
State teams in 1961, not long after State College was granted university
status. Yet references to school teams and athletes as Bulldogs actually
go back to early in the century, and this nickname was used almost interchangably with both Aggies and Maroons, since at least 1905.
On November 30 of that year the A&M football team shut out their
arch-rivals from the University of Mississippi 11-0 in Jackson, Miss.
The campus newspaper, The Reflector, reported: "After the game, filled
with that emotion that accompanies every great victory, there was
nothing left for the cadets to do but to complete the great victory by
showing sympathy for the dead athletic spirit of the University, by
having a military funeral parade.
"A coffin was secured, decorated with University colors and a bulldog
pup placed on top. It was then placed on the shoulders of a dozen
cadets, and the procession started down Capitol Street, preceded by the
brass band playing a very pathetic funeral march."
Other newspaper reports of the victory commented on the 'bulldog' style
of play by the A&M eleven, and the Bulldog was soon publicly accepted as
a school athletic symbol. Accounts of a 1926 pep rally in Meridian,
Miss., had another bulldog parading with students.
Use as an official game mascot began in 1935 when coach Major Ralph
Sasse, on 'orders' from his team, went to Memphis, Tenn., to select a
bulldog. Ptolemy, a gift of the Edgar Webster family, was chosen and the
Bulldogs promptly defeated Alabama 20-7.
A litter-mate of Ptolemy became the first mascot called 'Bully' shortly
after Sasse's team beat mighty Army 13-7 at West Point that same year,
perhaps the greatest victory in MSU football history. But Bully I earned
other fame the hard way, in 1939 when a campus bus cut short his career.
Days of campus mourning followed, as Bully lay in state in a glass
coffin. A half-mile funeral procession accompanied by the the Famous
Maroon Band and three ROTC battalions went to Scott Field where Bully
was buried under the bench at the 50-yard line. Even LIFE Magazine
covered to the event. Other Bullys have since been buried by campus
dorms, fraternity houses, and also at the football stadium.
For years Bully was a target for kidnappers, the last incident occuring
prior to the 1974 State-Ole Miss game. The Bulldog team won anyway,
31-13. While early Bullys once roamed campus freely or lived in
fraternities, today the official university mascot is housed at the
School of Veterinary Medicine when not on duty at State home football
games. For all their fierce appearance and reputation, today's mascot
bulldogs are good-natured, friendly animals and favorites with children.
A student wearing a Bulldog suit, also answering to Bully, is part of
the MSU cheerleading team and assists in stiring up State spirit at
games and pep rallies.
The most unique and certainly the most resounding symbol of Mississippi
State University tradition is the cowbell. Despite decades of attempts
by opponents and authorities to banish it from scenes of competition,
diehard State fans still celebrate Bulldog victories loudly and proudly
with the distinctive sound of ringing cowbells.
The precise origin of the cowbell as a fixture of Mississippi State
sports tradition remains unclear to this day. The best records have
cowbells gradually introduced to the MSU sports scene in the late 1930s
and early 1940s, coinciding with the 'golden age' of Mississippi State
prior to World War II.
The most popular legend is that during a home football game between
State and arch-rival Mississippi, a jersey cow wandered onto the playing
field. Mississippi State soundly whipped the Rebels that Saturday, and
State College students immediately adopted the cow as a good luck charm.
Students are said to have continued bringing a cow to football games for
a while, until the practice was eventually discontinued in favor of
bringing just the cow's bell.
Whatever the origin, it is certain that by the 1950s cowbells were
common at Mississippi State games, and by the 1960s were established as
the special symbol of Mississippi State. Ironically, the cowbell's
popularity grew most rapidly during the long years when State football
teams were rarely successful. Flaunting this anachronism from the
'aggie' days was a proud response by students and alumni to outsider
scorn of the university's 'cow college' history.
In the 1960s two MSU professors, Earl W. Terrell and Ralph L. Reeves
obliged some students by welding handles on the bells to they could be
rung with much more convenience and authority. By 1963 the demand for
these long-handled cowbells could not be filled by home workshops alone,
so at the suggestion of Reeves the Student Association bought bells in
bulk and the Industrial Education Club agreed to weld on handles. In
1964 the MSU Bookstore began marketing these cowbells with a portion of
the profits returning to these student organizations.
Today many styles of cowbells are available on campus and around
Starkville, with the top-of-the-line a heavy chrome-plated model with a
full Bulldog figurine handle. But experts insist the best and loudest
results are produced by a classic long-handled, bicycle-grip bell made
of thinner and tightly-welded shells.
Cowbells decorate offices and homes of Mississippi State alumni, and are
passed down through generations of Bulldog fans. But they are not heard
at Southeastern Conference gamesnot legally, at leastsince the 1974
adoption of a conference rule against 'artificial noisemakers' at
football and basketball games. On a 9-1 vote SEC schools ruled cowbells
a disruption and banned them.
This has done little harm to the cowbell's popularity, however, or to
prevent cowbells from being heard outside stadiums in which the Bulldogs
are playing. They can still be heard at non-conference football
contests, as well as other sporting events on campus. And bold Bulldog
fans still risk confiscation for the privilege of keeping a unique
Mississippi State tradition alive and ringing at SEC affairs.
Maroon and White (Colors)
Maroon and White are the distinctive colors of Mississippi State
University athletic teams, dating back over a century to the very first
football game ever played by the school's student-athletes.
On November 15, 1895, the first Mississippi A&M football team was
preparing for a road trip to Jackson, Tenn., to play Southern Baptist
University (now called Union University) the following day. Since every
college was supposed to have its own uniform colors, the A&M student
body requested that the school's team select a suitable combination.
Considering making this choice an honor, the innaugural State team gave
the privilege to team captain W.M. Matthews. Accounts report that
without hesitation Matthews chose Maroon and White.
In the 100 years since, every Mississippi State athlete has donned the
Maroon and White in some sort of combination. Often a shade of gray has
been added to the scheme, such as for the numerals. Briefly in the 1980s
the men's and women's basketball teams wore all-gray uniforms with
maroon and white trim, while football has at times sported silver game
pants, and baseball will often wear all-gray road outfits.
Only once has a MSU team appeared in any other color combination. In
1938 football coach Spike Nelson secretly had cardinal and gold uniforms
made for State, a selection that did not sit well with the team or the
college at the first game. Neither the uniforms nor Nelson were back for
the next season.
Hail State (Fight Song)
Hail dear 'ole State!
Fight for that victory today.
Hit that line and tote that ball,
Cross the goal before you fall!
And then we'll yell, yell, yell, yell!
For dear 'ole State we'll yell like H-E-L-L!
Fight for Mis-sis-sip-pi State,
Win that game today!
Maroon and White
In the heart of Mississippi
Made by none but God's own hands
Stately in her nat'ral splendor
Our Alma Mater proudly stands.
State College of Mississippi,
Fondest mem'ries cling to thee.
Life shall hoard thy spirit ever,
Loyal sons we'll always be.
Maroon and White! Maroon and White!
Of thee with joy we sing.
Thy colors bright, our souls delight,
With praise our voices ring.
Tho' our life some pow'r may vanquish,
Loyalty can't be o'er run;
Honors true on thee we lavish
Until the setting of the sun;
Live Maroon and White for ever,
Ne'er can evil mar thy fame,
Nothing us from thee can sever,
Alma Mater we acclaim.