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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
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Landshark Tony visits Kyle Field

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Landshark Tony was announced as the official mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels in October 2017.

The dark gray shark that stood on the sidelines of Kyle Field on Saturday isn’t just an internet meme that came to life. It’s a tribute to one of the Rebels’ former players and the long-standing tradition he started.
According to the Ole Miss athletics website, the Rebels started using the term “Landshark” in 2008, thanks to then-senior defensive end Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran who served a tour overseas before joining the team.
In his senior season with the Rebels, Fein was a contributor who helped turn around the defense and revive a program which had four straight losing seasons. During Fein’s senior season, the Rebels went 9-4 and beat No. 7 Texas Tech in the 2009 Cotton Bowl.
Fein died of an accidental drug overdose a year later after his time at Ole Miss.
The Ole Miss defense began using the Landshark signal to celebrate major stops on the field. Players would place their thumb on their for head with fingers extended to make a shark fin. This action began to spread across Ole Miss, making it a staple of the university.
According to an article in The Daily Mississippian, students voted for Ole Miss to replace Rebel the Black Bear with Landshark Tony as the on-field mascot. Tony was a clear winner with 81 percent of the vote.
Ole Miss head cheer coach Ryan O’Connor said after the students voted for the change, other steps followed to officially switch to Landshark Tony.
“There were several other groups that voted on it after the students brought it to the athletic department’s attention,” O’Connor said. “It was pretty unanimous across the board that alumni, students and even in the athletic department that students wanted a change.”
On Aug. 11, 2018, Ole Miss introduced Tony to Ole Miss fans before the start of the season at “Meet the Rebels,” an event that allows fans to interact with the football team before the season starts.
O’Connor said the new mascot has been well-received by students and alumni as well as other universities they have traveled to this season.
“We’ve noticed that other fan bases, especially A&M’s today, have really enjoyed him,” O’Connor said.
The opportunity to honor a veteran and the player who made such an impact in Oxford is something that O’Connor said has resonated with her.
“It’s been fun having a mascot that really means something and pays tribute to somebody was so special to our university,” O’Connor said.
Landshark Tony wears jersey No. 47, which was Fein’s jersey during his time at Ole Miss.
Jennifer Sanogo, mother of Ole Miss linebacker Mohamed Sanogo — a Texan — said she was originally confused about the tradition but has since embraced it as her son has spent more time in Oxford.
“I think it’s fun,” Sanogo said. “I love it. I didn’t understand it initially because I wasn’t as familiar with the Ole Miss players’ history, but now that my son plays, I’ve learned as he has gone to school.”
Sanago said she doesn’t know what her son Mohamed thinks of the mascot but, she has seen him do the “Fins Up” signal.
Amanda Hunt, a 2017 Ole Miss graduate, said Landshark Tony has a special place in her heart because of the significance and honor he represents.
“I like it because of this history it brings from the veteran we lost,” Hunt said. “He was a big part of our team back then. I think it’s better than the black bear as well. It means something more to Ole Miss.”

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