THIS STORY BEGINS a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Or, Oxford, Miss. Close enough.
The University of Mississippi is searching high and low to find a replacement mascot for its retired Colonel Reb image.
So of course, Ole Miss students have made a push to have that replacement be ... Admiral Ackbar.
Never miss a local story.
If that name doesn't ignite your lightsaber, that's OK. He's an obscure "Star Wars" character from "Return of the Jedi." Remember the crimson, amphibious bubba who's in charge of the spaceship armada that attacks the second Death Star? For my money, his immortal line, "It's a trap!" has more dramatic weight than when the deckhand in "Titanic" blurted, "Iceberg, dead ahead!"
But you caught the connection, right? The Mississippi Rebels envision their sidelines prowled by a leader of the Rebel Alliance.
Naturally, Internet dweebs have gotten very creative with their "Elect Admiral Ackbar!" campaigns. My favorite is the Obama-ized portrait of the good Admiral hovering over the word "TRAP."
But if one SEC school gets a "Star Wars" mascot, all of them will want one. And sure, some in the blogosphere have already started "Which 'Star Wars' character matches your school" breakdowns. But the ones I've seen are missing the point.
Anyone can delve into "Luke Skywalker is this school, Han Solo is that school ..." arguments (strangely, everyone picks Nick Saban as the Emperor).
But if you're got Admiral Ackbar as your starting point, your list needs to be "Which OBSCURE 'Star Wars' character matches your SEC school?"
Fortunately, for a Jedi mastermind like myself, there is no such thing as an "obscure" "Star Wars" character. These were the names I pretty much free-associated in my head. Some of them I have as action figures in their original packages, safely preserved in an action figure humidor in my private vault. My evil twin brother Orville will gladly appraise their value for you if you'd care to add a purchase to your collection.
But if my description of these characters don't help, do a "Google Image" search on each name. I guarantee you'll find at least three pictures per character: 1. a screen grab from the movie; 2. the action figure in its original package; and 3. a photo of a fan dressed as that character at a comic book convention in a homemade costume.
Now man your ships ... and may the Force be with you. (Sorry, General Dodonna, you didn't make the cut.)
Mississippi State Bulldogs - Lumpy. It doesn't get more obscure than Chewbacca's school-aged Wookiee son from that most obscure of Lucasfilm enterprises: the 1978 "Star Wars Holiday Special." Maybe someday Lumpy will grow into someone powerful, but right now he's still at that awkward age where he can't punch the ball in from the 1.
Auburn Tigers - Sebulba. He's the nemesis of young Anakin Skywalker who could pilot a pod racer faster than your can say "War Eagle." Let us know if you can tell the difference between tooling around the deserts of Tatooine and the Plains.
Alabama Crimson Tide - Grand Moff Tarkin. Maybe he didn't wear a houndstooth hat around the original Death Star, but this bad guy played by Peter Cushing was clearly the Bear Bryant of Imperial officers. He didn't care that 1. the title "Grand Moff" means nothing to anybody else in the universe; or 2. that blowing up an entire planet with a laser is an obvious NCAA violation.
Arkansas Razorbacks - Porkins. He's the Rebel X-Wing pilot who went by the handle Red Six but got blowed up real good. You could probably get away with calling any Razorbacks fan a Porkins, and no one would realize it's a "Star Wars" reference.
LSU Tigers - Salacious Crumb. He's the cackling little bayou rat who hangs around Jabba the Hutt's throne all day. Sorry that sounds harsh, but can you imagine a better king for a Mardi Gras float? I'm sure Les Miles already has one of these things hopping around his office.
Florida Gators - Bossk. This is the reptilian bounty hunter seen alongside Boba Fett in "The Empire Strikes Back." He probably doesn't go to jail as much as the typical Gator player, but he must have a warmer personality than Florida's chief mercenary, Urban Meyer.
Georgia Bulldogs - Dr. Cornelius Evazan. OK, even I had to Google the actual name for this character. But he's the guy who tells Luke in the cantina, "You watch yourself! We're wanted men! I have the death sentence on 12 systems!" And then Ben Kenobi whips out his lightsaber and slices him and his buddy up. So basically, Evazan looks and acts like the typical Bulldogs tailgater and then backs up his hype on the field as well as the football players the past few seasons.
South Carolina Gamecocks - R5-D4. This is the droid that Luke and his uncle try to buy from the Jawas. It looks good on the outside, you expect a lot of hard work to come from it ... then it rolls 5 feet and blows up. Analogy complete.
Kentucky Wildcats - Captain Antilles. This is the guy in charge of the spaceship where Princess Leia was hiding the Death Star plans. He gets choked to death by Darth Vader while insisting the ship is on a "diplomatic mission." Kind of like how the football team gets run over while fans insist the school is getting ready for basketball season.
Vanderbilt Commodores - Captain Needa. Is someone looking for a ship captain who's in over his head? Needa is the guy in charge of the Star Destroyer that gets the Wiggle-Me-Do from Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. Vader then chokes Needa like he was being punished for going 0-8 in SEC play.
Tennessee Volunteers - Jar Jar Binks. OK, this would have been more appropriate if Lane Kiffin were still around. Still, until the Vols get back to the SEC title game, just put a Davy Crockett hat on top of that son of a Gungan, and shut your eyes until you hope it goes away.