Russ has been officially promoted to Uga IX for the Georgia football team.
Having served two terms as the interim mascot for the Bulldogs, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity announced the Bulldogs would make the move official Sept. 15 against Florida Atlantic (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
Russ has endeared himself to the Georgia people over the last three years. His dedication to duty when called upon has been exemplary and it’s fitting that he takes his place in the official line of Georgia mascots.
Russ served as interim mascot following the death of Uga VII (his half-brother) in November 2009 due to heart-related causes. He filled in for the final two games of the season and the first six games of 2010. During that time, the Bulldogs went 4-4, including a win over Texas A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl.
He served as mascot on an interim basis again last year after Uga VIII died in early 2011 due to cancer. Again, Russ stepped in for the 2011 season, helping lead the Bulldogs to a berth in the SEC Championship Game.
Now, Russ will get his chance to be the "official" mascot of Georgia, and will look to lead the team back to the conference title game.
Throughout his career as the interim mascot, Russ has a record of 14-8.
A line that started in 1956 by Sonny Seiler, the Uga mascot has roamed the sidelines ever since.
From Uga I to Uga IX, the pure English Bulldog line is one of the longest running mascot lines in college football.
In fact, Uga is one of the most famous mascots in the world. He's attended the Heisman Trophy ceremony with Herschel Walker in 1982 and had a cameo in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Defined by a spiked collar, the actual dog is considered a holy grail of sorts for passionate UGA football fans. Some fans propose to their girlfriends in front of him, while others try to get their baby to receive a Georgia-style baptism—a simple lick of the head.
When an Uga does pass away, there is heartbreak throughout Dawg Country. Many feel like Uga was a part of their family, even though they might have only seen or touched him once.
After death, UGA buries all Ugas within the confines of Sanford Stadium. All eight previous mascots are buried in marble vaults near the main gate of the South stands. Epitaphs are inscribed in bronze, with flowers being placed on their graves prior to each home game.
While there is sadness for the eight Ugas before, there is joy once again in Athens as fans can once again see that famous dog they all know and love.
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