The petition to make the "Landshark" Ole Miss' official mascot looks like its been tabled.
Sam Fowlkes, who started a petition on Change.org earlier in the week to make the grass roots "Landshark" officially recognized by the school, told the Sun Herald Friday he has taken down the petition.
"I love this University and the future of the athletic department. I took the petition down because I care about the Landshark and working with the athletic department to potentially make changes on this campus," he said in a statement. "This process should be a collaborative effort. Out of respect for (Ole Miss athletics director) Ross Bjork and this University, I removed my petition and hope that we can have another conversation at the end of the season, when the timing is better."
Below is Fowlkes' original plea for change, entitled "Petitioning Ross Bjork: Ole Miss Rebels, Let's Make the Landshark Official":
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"Everywhere you look on gameday in Oxford, the story is all about the Landshark. Whether it is in the defense making plays, the hype video, the flag waving, or even the fan cams, the landshark is an embodiment of the team and the University. This petition is a preliminary attempt to gather interest from the student body and alumni on potentially associating the Landshark with the University of Mississippi. The only apparent association with Ole Miss and the Black Bear is the mascot on the field; however, this petition and further actions are not an attempt to undo the past or any work done on the previous mascots. The Landshark has a distinct relationship to the students, faculty, and alumni, and I am trying to determine if there is enough support for me to pursue future actions. With your help, I can present the ASB senate with a tangible petition showing support, where we can then determine future actions on changing of the mascot."
Ole Miss' official nickname is the "Rebels" and in 2010 the school debuted Rebel Black Bear as the on-field mascot after Colonel Reb was retired. Even with the Black Bear's presence in Oxford, the "Landshark" has taken a firm hold on the Ole Miss fan base.
The "Landshark" dates back to 2008.
"After four straight losing seasons, the Rebel football team returned to national prominence with a 9-4 record and a victory over 7th-ranked Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl," the school media guide states. "Leading the charge was a defensive squad that ranked fourth in the nation in rushing defense and included All-Americans Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy and eventual All-SEC standout Jerrell Powe."
The school credits deceased linebacker and Army Veteran Tony Fein for flashing the first "Landshark" hand gesture during the 2008 season.
As of Thursday afternoon, the petition, which was started Tuesday, had more than 3,600 digital signatures with a goal of 5,000. No word on what will happen if -- when -- the petition eclipses 5,000 signatures.
The whole process begs the real question: What on earth would a "Landshark" look like?