R.I.P: A Georgia Bulldog Tribute To UGA VII
The Georgia Bulldog nation got a shock to their collective system on Thursday evening as the news trickled slowly through the Twitter and AP news wires that Uga VII, also known as Loran's Best, had passed away.
The beloved white English bulldog was only four-years old and was finishing his second-season at the helm as Georgia's mascot—he took over on August 30, 2008.
He may now hold the sad distinction of being the Georgia Bulldog mascot with the shortest tenure but in his short stint as our trusty wearer of the 'G', he made us proud and sat watch over some very memorable moments on the football field.
In his memory, I have lifted a few of those very games so that we might not only reminisce on the greatness that was this little beauty from the Coastal City, but also remind us Dawg fans of just how wonderful a thing it is to be a Georgia Bulldog.
Making History: Georgia Ranked Preseason No. 1
Although the Georgia Bulldogs weren't able to introduce Uga VII until the Georgia Southern game nearly three-weeks later, his tenure began rather beautifully as he was the beneficiary of a No. 1 team.
In August of 2008, the Georgia Bulldogs were named preseason No. 1 by the pollsters—setting the stage for what many felt would be a phenomenal year for the Dawgs.
Uga VII made his entrance on August 30, 2008 and his arrival culminated in a win over the Georgia Southern Eagles 45-21.
The UGA football season had officially begun and things were already looking pretty for the red and black.
The Hurdle: Knowshon Posterizes a Chippewa
It wasn't exactly the plan of Knowshon Moreno to hurdle over a defender but when he did it, it was difficult for any Georgia Bulldog fan not to let out a big 'woooooooo baby!'.
The play was spectacular—despite the fact that it didn't make ESPN's highlight reel that Saturday evening.
The Dawgs were dominating the Chippewa's up to that point; the score was 42-17 at the time but it was still one heckuva play for No. 24.
Whoever No. 22 for Central Michigan happened to be, I hope he was able to recover.
Central Michigan lost 56-17 and Knowshon, for the most part, sealed his NFL fate with this play.
Travelin' Man: Uga Leads The Way At Tempe
In all the time that the Seiler family of Savannah, Ga has been supplying the University of Georgia with "Uga's", none has ever traveled as far as Uga VII would on September 20, 2008.
As a Dawg fan, how can you forget seeing the 56 lb sweetheart lead the team out onto the field in Tempe? It was quite a sight to see and is embedded into the memory of many a Dawg fan.
It was the furthest Uga had traveled since the Final Four of 1983—held in Albuquerque, New Mexico—where the Georgia Men's basketball team was making it's first Final Four appearance.
As for the presence of this Uga, the Dawgs and A.J. Green made sure that the trip was not in vain as they won the game in dominating fashion and left a shocked Tempe contingent wondering what went wrong.
Spreading the Wealth: Uga Was More Than Just A Football Dawg
It's important to realize that Uga is not just present at football games but he has been known to put in appearances for other team sports at Georgia as well.
One of the more memorable photos of last season was one that Uga VII took with the Gym Dogs as they were readying for their final home meet of the season.
The Gym Dogs took the team photo with the stout little English bulldog standing front and center—it was coach Suzanne Yoculan's final home game as head coach of the team.
The Gym Dogs would not only win the meet to cap off an undefeated regular season but they would go on to win the National Championship as well.
Loran Smith didn't call Uga VII "lucky" for nothing.
Lambasted by Bama: The Blackout Game of 2008
Even though the outcome of the game wasn't what Dawg fans would have liked to see, it's hard to forget the electric atmosphere leading up to the game.
College Gameday was back in Athens and the Bulldawg Nation was feeling somewhat confident about their chances against Alabama.
We were loving the attention and as our home team ran out on the field sporting those beautiful, yet doomed, black jerseys; it was hard not to miss Uga doing the same.
Uga VII was wearing that black too and we all felt this was gonna be a great night to be a Bulldog.
We fought hard at the end but the outcome was sealed from the first snap as Bama took the game and the season to new heights.
Still, though, the image of Uga VII in black was one for the ages.
We Ain't Skeered: Dawgs Bite Tigers in Baton Rouge
After the loss to Bama, the Dawgs went on a roll. They took down both Tennessee and Vandy but were facing a tough road test in LSU.
The Tigers were still a bit rocked after a loss to Florida but were, at the time, still in the hunt for a national title if they could win out and stay focused.
No one gave the Dawgs much of a chance in the Bayou but Uga VII was known for being a cool customer despite his surroundings and was never rattled by the crowds or the atmosphere.
The team channeled that energy en route to a big win over the Tigers.
Dawgs win 52-38.
Never Quit: A.J. Makes the Catch
If Uga VII's tenure was marked by anything, it was marked by the knack for making a comeback.
Against Auburn, the Dawgs were down late in the fourth quarter before Matthew Stafford found A.J. Green for a 17-yard score.
The Dawgs escaped the Plains with a 17-13 win and a three-game win streak over the Tigers.
New Season, New Leaders: A Changing of the Guard at Georgia
The 2009 season didn't begin with as much potential or fan fare as 2008. Uga VII was, understandably, cautious following a loss in Stillwater to the No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
The Dawgs again came out flat and uninspired as the Gamecocks took a ten-point lead early and hushed the crowd of Sanford Stadium.
However, channeling the Wild Dawg within him, Branden Smith reinvigorated the Georgia offense as the Dawgs proved to be the team with the last bullet in the gun of this shootout.
Uga VII looked on in satisfaction as his guys trotted off the field—victorious.
Uga's Last Stand
Little did any of us know that this would be Uga's final game.
The Dawgs were favored according to the Vegas bunch but not many people outside of Vegas were giving the Dawgs a chance to win this game—they were too inconsistent.
Auburn running back, Ben Tate, had been a force all season and, although the Dawgs were beginning to find their running legs after Vandy, no one really felt like we were consistent enough on either side of the ball to win this game.
It was all Auburn for the most part but, true to the tenacity and heart of Uga VII's tenure, the Dawgs gave all for the home crowd and managed to win the game.
The picture above is that of Georgia quarterback Joe Cox with Uga VII prior to the game.
*Photo courtesy of Brant Sanderlin/AJC
A Fallen Dawg: In Honor of Uga VII
The University of Georgia will not have a mascot at their final home game on Saturday. They will place a wreath on Uga's doghouse on the north sideline.
He will be honored in the same way as those that came before him as his remains will be interred into the walls of Sanford Stadium.
Some are talking of a further tribute being proposed by the team—perhaps a blackout game is in the works?
In my humble opinion, the best tribute is to win the game. Let's honor the memory of our beloved mascot in much the same way we would had he been there to roam the lines freely—bring home a 'w' for the dog that Loran Smith called "Lucky".
Let's Hunker Down for ol' Uga.
R.I.P. To Another Damn Good Dawg