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Who’s your….mascot?

The University of Mississippi has been without an official mascot to complement their Rebels nickname, since Colonel Reb was retired in 2003. A campuswide referendum held Tuesday indicated that students want a new mascot. One of the possibilities?

Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars. They created a site aimed at getting students to vote yes on the new mascot referendum.

Apparently, a student committee will get together and decide on a new mascot. If they can manage to get George Lucas to license the use of the Rebel Alliance logo and Admiral Ackbar is it likely that we’ll see this strange creature roaming the sidelines at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in the near future?

My bet is no. Even if Lucas were to go through with this, one has to think officials would want a mascot that they can appropriate for their own purposes and not have to share the kitty with anyone else. Nonetheless, if someone manages to go along with it, you’d have to think a lot more Rebels gear will sell in some unlikely places than ever before.

There is a precedent for having a famous cartoon character as the mascot of a team in college sports. Disney’s Donald Duck is licensed to the University of Oregon for athletic uses.

This became an interesting problem a few months ago, when some more intrepid students set out to the web and created a viral video sensation called “I Love My Ducks (I Smell Roses) to support their team in advance of their Pac-10 title season and trip to the Rose Bowl.

The problem with the video? Donald was in the video and he’s not licensed for use to anyone other than the University. Oops.

So all vestiges of the video were to be scrubbed from the internet and never to be spoken of again. This was until football head coach Chip Kelly asked for the sensation to be played at their rivalry game against Oregon State. The solution? Scrub the duck out and make a new video.

Mascots can be touchy subjects for alums and the Ole Miss controversy, (just google it and read the comments on any article about it from a major newspaper in the South) but for a situation that could’ve just been another blot on the university, these students have done something that for the time being has shifted the debate away from “Should it be a Colonel Reb variant?” to “Hey, isn’t that neat?” buying them a great deal of positive feedback that simply wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

Another example of how the web morphs local matters into something bigger.