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…does whatever a Spider can

A new year, a new college mascot search in the commonwealth, it seems.

Last spring, the College of William & Mary undertook a mascot search that gave Tribe fans “the Griffin.”

Now the University of Richmond is planning to replace “Spidey,” its current bug-headed and caped mascot (right).

“Spidey” isn’t the critter’s real name, though. The people at Marvel Entertainment, who own everything related to “Spider-man,” hold that copyright. UR fans generally use that name, although the school has not promoted it, upon advice of counsel.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, money is in part driving the decision to get a new mascot. UR can make some bucks on plush toys and other mascot-related memorabilia.

UR says it teams will remain the “Spiders.” In fact, the school sports site notes that UR is the only college in the entire country to use that nickname. Historical fact: UR fielded teams called “the Colts” in the late 19th century; in 1894, when a reporter observed that a lanky, long-armed pitcher looked a spider on the baseball mound, a new name was born and it stuck.

Of course, the new UR mascot doesn’t have to be an arachnid. It could end up being something completely different. William & Mary’s teams go by the moniker “the Tribe” and the Griffin is a mythical creature that is part eagle and part lion. Not terribly tribal.

Like W&M last year, UR will allow the public to vote on the new mascot. In March, the school will debut a website with three choices. The one that gets the most votes becomes the new mascot. The public also will get the name the new mascot. Stay tuned.

A quick aside: For all the hoopla in 2010 at W&M over the Griffin, the creature remains nameless. The school promised, but has yet to conduct, a public naming contest.

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