"Bully" The Bulldog
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 A&M College 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 interchangeably 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 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 occurring 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 College 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 stirring up State spirit at games and pep rallies.