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WWJD #47: Should UNLV Bring Back Hey Reb?

Franchise Sports Media


There are a lot of people that want to see Hey Reb back at UNLV. Should the school revisit bringing their former mascot back?

Hey Reb was UNLV’s mascot. Should they bring him back?

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Well, it’s that time of the year again. The battle for the Fremont Cannon ended with a 45-27 Rebels win, keeping the cannon Rebel Red.  

UNLV and UNR are headed in two different directions. The Rebels are now 5–1 and looking like a team that should go Bowling this season, and with a win on Saturday vs Colorado State they will do just that. Barry Odom and his staff have turned UNLV into a program that is trending upward in the college football world.

On the other hand, the Wolfpack have not won a game this season and are winless in their last 16 games. The program looks in shambles and trending to stay that way. 

It’s an excellent time to be an alum, booster, student, and fan of the Rebels.

The only thing that could make this better for UNLV fans, alum, and former players would be an appearance by the Rebels‘ former mascot, Hey Reb.

In 2020, amid protests against racial inequality following the murder of George Floyd, UNLV announced that they had removed the Hey Reb statue in front of the Tam Alumni Center. 

In recent conversations with the donor, we mutually agreed it was best to remove the statue and return it.” The university’s then-president, Marta Meana, clarified the decision: “Over the past few months, I have had discussions with multiple individuals and stakeholder groups from campus and the community on how best the university can move forward given recent events throughout our nation.”

In 2021, it was announced that the beloved mascot would no longer be used due to similar concerns. The University announced that they did not have plans to create a new mascot but still would remain known as the Rebels.

A lot of UNLV fans are not happy about not having their mascot and feel their concerns and reasoning are valid. You see, Hey Reb is not a rebel of the Confederacy, at least not in the way some would think.

Should UNLV bring back Hey Reb?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Hey Reb was a symbol of UNLV rebelling against UNR.

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UNLV cast themselves as Rebels when Southern Nevada University was founded in 1957. The school began as a branch of the University of Nevada in Reno and had to fight the political power of the North to become autonomous. They were rebelling for the school’s freedom to be on their own. 

Although UNLV dropped its Confederate mascot, the school’s colors and the Rebel nickname endured,” wrote UNLV history professor Eugene Moehring in “The University of Nevada, Las Vegas: A History.” “After all, ‘rebel’ stood for much more than a supporter of the Civil War against the Union … Most of all, in Southern Nevada, it stood for those who had opposed northern domination in the state Legislature and unwanted dependency upon Reno.

In 1970, UNLV cut ties with the old Southern symbolism after students protested its racist connotations. Before that, UNLV drew on symbolisms of the confederacy. The original mascot was Beauregard, which was a cartoon wolf who wore a Confederate gray military jacket and cap. The student government was initially called the Confederated Students of the University of Nevada. For a short time, the football team wore helmets that had a rebel flag on them.

The university eventually replaced Beauregard with a musket to Minuteman, who still was a revolutionary war figure. For a short time, UNLV went without a mascot (from 1976 to 1982) before Hey Reb was developed in 1982 by Mike Miller. 

Hey Reb would always wear a UNLV jersey with the number 57 to commemorate the university’s founding year (1957). In 2004, he was named one of the 12 All-American mascots and competed in the Capital One Bowl Mascot Challenge for the mascot of the year. He ended up finishing second in the online voting.

In 2015, Nevada Senator Harry Reid called for the design of Hey Reb to be revisited again.

Will UNLV bring back Hey Reb?

Will Hey Reb ever return? 

Hey Reb was one of the most popular mascots in college sports. 

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Unfortunately, for UNLV fans wanting his return, Hey Reb is not coming back. University president Dr. Keith Whitfield made the announcement in January 2021.

There was even an online petition supporting Hey Reb and for not only the mascot’s return but also the statue’s return to the front of the alumni center.

The Hey Reb mascot is defined as a rebel and a mountain man. A westerner, a pathfinder, and a rugged individual,” wrote petitioner Craig Lake. “This group recognizes this rugged mountain man as an integral part of Las Vegas and University history and bands together and requests his statue to be returned to the UNLV campus, and Hey Reb and the Rebels remain a part of UNLV now and in the future.

Another petitioner added, “Although unintentional in intent, those original depictions are no longer used and rightfully removed.

In 2019, Native American UNLV students pressured the school to remove the Hey Reb statue to create a welcoming atmosphere for Indigenous people. Ryan Boone, a member of the Walker River Paiute tribe, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the statue is hostile to Native Americans like him.

On a campus that’s supposed to be ‘different, daring and diverse,’” he said, “we have this statue of an Indian killer.”

I completely understand both sides of the argument. As a Hispanic male, some things bother me regarding cultural appropriation. I won’t stand for racism in any way, shape or form. But I do ask, was Hey Reb created out of hate? Based on the school’s history, UNLV was rebelling against UNR to be their own school, have their own voice, and have their own rights. Doesn’t Hey Reb represent that?


UNLV vs Pepperdine
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We live in a different world. It is ever-changing. In many ways, it’s for the good, and in some ways, it’s for the bad. And in this world, we tend to react and do things out of emotion rather than make decisions based on logic and education. It’s a hot-take society and one where the masses usually win.

But this is one time that I hope there is more to consider knowing the facts and history of Hey Reb.

I’ve seen children light up when they saw Hey Reb. They would get excited when he gave them high-fives or took a picture with them. I’ve seen him get crowds excited and pumped up when the Rebels needed to feel the good vibes from their fanbase to make a play or get a stop.

In my heart of hearts, I do not believe that Hey Reb was made out of maliciousness or hatred, a lot like the Looney Tunes character, Yosemite Sam. Hey Reb was, and remains beloved by almost everyone in the UNLV Fanbase. 

I would love for the university to have an open dialogue with its donors, boosters, alumni, and students and see if another version of Hey Reb can be brought to life. Like our everyday lives, we continue to evolve, and the only way to continue that process is to have dialogue, communicate effectively, and find common ground. I believe it’s time to unite the Rebels fan base and find a way to bring a new, updated version of Hey Reb back.

UNLV should talk about bringing Hey Reb back.

Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous.”                –Confucius


-Joe Arrigo   Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on Twitter and Instagram: @JoeArrigoFSM

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