By Shelia Byrd/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Now that students at the University of Mississippi have voted to find a new mascot, some Rebels on campus are backing Admiral Ackbar of “Star Wars” fame — but as the admiral himself might say, “It’s a trap.”
Officials say there’s virtually no chance the fish-faced leader of the Rebel Alliance in the science-fiction flick could become the on-field mascot for the Rebels of Ole Miss.
The president of the Associated Student Body dismisses it as “comic relief.”
But that does not deter a contingent of Ole Miss “Star Wars” fanatics who are promoting the pop-eyed space character from the planet Mon Calamari and his most famous and often parodied line: “It’s a trap!”
The students voted this week to begin the search for a new mascot at the Southeastern Conference school. The Oxford-based university has been without a mascot since 2003, when Colonel Reb, a caricature of an aging Southern planter, was run off the field.
The admiral’s fans have created a Web site and have a strong Facebook following. Kelly Jacobs of Hernando, who has two sons enrolled at the university, has sent a letter to Lucas requesting he give Ole Miss the rights to the character. A call seeking comment from the publicity department of Lucasfilm Ltd., a production company based in Marin County, Calif., wasn’t immediately returned.
Matthew Henry, one of the four students who started the campaign, said the Web site has gotten 55,000 hits. The topic was ranked No. 13 on Google Trends on Wednesday. And, Henry said it also was a top story on the celebrity Web site TMZ.com and was featured on the official “Star Wars” blog.
“We did not expect it to be this big. It started off as something fun to represent the void since there really wasn’t a mascot being presented,” Henry said.
Officials for the student government and the university appreciate the mischievous suggestion, but they said it’s unlikely to produce anything but laughs.
ASB President Artair Rogers sees the whole thing as a joke.
“It’s really been comic relief about the student process,” Rogers said.
Sparky Reardon, the university’s dean of students, said the campaign will not be part of the official process to select a new mascot to succeed Colonel Reb on team sidelines.
“College students are very creative, innovative, and mischievous. This was a group of students sitting around talking about the mascot issue. They were “Star Wars” fans and they said, ‘What if?’ There are a lot of people having fun right now,” Reardon said.
But not everyone is down on the Admiral’s chances.
Cortez Moss, ASB communications director, says he’s open to nearly all mascot suggestions at this point.
“The only thing I’m in opposition to is Colonel Reb,” Moss said. “It’s a student led process. If there are students who are lobbying hard for this mascot, they shouldn’t be left out of the process.”