Not to jump the gun or anything, but Georgia Gwinnett College needs a mascot.
Yes, I know the college doesn't have any students yet. Or classes, or even faculty. While those things are nice, this is, after all, the South. Here, we concern ourselves first and foremost with what is truly important: sports. As any legitimate Civil War historian will tell you, the South didn't really secede over states' rights. It was all about the Bowl Championship Series.
However, we must be very careful. The process of choosing a mascot, once simple, is now as fraught with political correctness implications as your average Gulf Coast hurricane.
The first rule of mascot selection is that negatively depicting specific ethnic groups is not allowed. For example, the NCAA's stance on Native American-inspired nicknames has made it clear that all such mascots are considered stereotypical and demeaning. I see no reason we shouldn't apply that same standard to other primitive cultures, such as Vikings, Trojans, Spartans and Senate Democrats.
Not that all groups are necessarily taboo. A college or university is always free to name its sports teams after a group that has positively impacted the culture of its region or with whom the region is commonly associated. For example, consider the Cowboys of Oklahoma State University, or Southwest Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns.
Unfortunately, Georgia Gwinnett doesn't have that option. While there is one clearly identifiable group that defines the region, Cussin' Commuters just doesn't have the same ring.
Another rule of mascot selection is if you're going to have an animal nickname - which seems to be the current rage, since animals don't own casinos and therefore can't afford lawyers - you should pick one known for its ferocity, or at least its tenacity.
No offense to Kennesaw State, which has a fine athletic program, but come on. The Owls? Hardly a name to inspire fear: "We're the Owls. We're going to win because we're wiser than you." I mean, what are they playing, chess?
Instead, a college should choose a vicious predator, like a lion, a wolf or a jaguar. Or, if a bird, at least one that's known for being fierce, like an eagle. (I think we can eliminate Hawks and Falcons based on that criterion.)
With these parameters in mind, I hereby unofficially open the mascot selection process for Georgia Gwinnett College. Readers are invited to e-mail me their ideas at the address below. If I get enough suggestions, and if they're imaginative and entertaining enough, I'll put them in a future column.
I'll even start the ball rolling with a nomination of my own: Razorbacks. This animal is both fierce and tenacious and, like native Southerners, once roamed Gwinnett County in abundance.
For good, clean, wacky fun, students could refer to their teams affectionately as "The Pigs" and nickname their home football stadium "The Poke."
E-mail Rob Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.