The Bulldog Nation will be seeking answers to several burning questions as its Dawgs enter the 2010 football season.
How will a freshman perform as Georgia’s starting quarterback? Will new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defensive scheme prove effective? And, above all for some Bulldog fans, when will we see the new Uga?
For 54 seasons, a pure white English bulldog named “Uga” has patrolled the Georgia sidelines for roughly 600 games.
With the untimely passing of the seventh of these world-renowned dogs last November, UGA fans cannot wait to witness their new mascot: Uga VIII.
There are many distinguished moments in the lives of the first seven Ugas. Here is the top 10 of the nation’s No. 1 mascot:
Only days following the death of Uga VII, UGA Athletic Director Damon Evans received a letter from PETA, suggesting the mascot should be replaced with an “animatronic,” or robot, dog instead of using another real bulldog.
“It is time for the university to put an end to the cycle of suffering endured by dogs who are brought into the world solely to represent the school’s ‘brand’,” said PETA’s Kristie Phelps.
Uga, suffer?!? It appears Ms. Phelps wasn’t aware that Georgia’s top dog has a better quality of life than most people. Consequently, PETA’s request was ignored.
9) Look Out Below!
During pregame ceremonies against Ole Miss in 1992, former Georgia football great and assistant coach Bill Hartman accidentally got tangled in Uga V’s leash, fell, and barely missed landing on the mascot. SEE VIDEO.
The following week, Uga V would have been the first live mascot at Fayetteville in Georgia’s game with Arkansas.
Arkansas’ previous conference, the Southwest Conference, did not allow live mascots on playing fields, unlike the SEC (Arkansas’ conference since ’92).
Uga’s close call with disaster got owner Sonny Seiler thinking about the mascot’s future lineage. Instead of going to Fayetteville, Uga V spent the following weekend in Moultrie, GA, with a female bulldog carrying on his bloodline.
8) Never Upstaged
In July 2002, selected Washington, D.C.-area alumni of UGA were invited to a special reception, recognizing members of the Georgia congressional delegation for their support of the university.
The guest of honor was none other than three-and-a-half-year-old Uga VI, whose name was mentioned atop the invitation above special guests Mark Richt and Vince Dooley.
“I’ve always been upstaged [by Uga],” said Dooley on Capitol Hill. “That was part of the contract when I arrived [at Georgia]. I was always behind Uga.”
7) Passing of the Collar
On UGA’s Homecoming on October 22, 1966, against Kentucky, a long-standing tradition began with the passing of a dog collar from one Uga mascot to his successor.
Uga I had been the mascot for more than 10 years and had began showing signs of age. With most of the 45,348 spectators in Sanford Stadium chanting “Damn Good Dog,” his 11-month-old son became Georgia’s Uga II.
On the Tuesday following the game, the ceremony was featured on the front of The Washington Post sports section. Two weeks later, Uga I died of old age in Savannah and was buried the next day inside Sanford Stadium.
Georgia is the only university to bury its mascots within the confines of its stadium.
6) The Very First of Many
On Sept. 29, 1956, Georgia hosted Florida State for the Bulldogs’ first home game of the year. Prior to the game, students Sonny and Cecelia Seiler took their white English bulldog, recently named “Uga,” to a party near Sanford Stadium.
Apparently, Uga caused such an uproar during the party, the Seilers were urged by friends to escort their dog to the game. “We never intended to take Uga to Sanford Stadium that day,” said Sonny.
Dressed in a red t-shirt with a “G” on the chest and accompanied by the party-goers, Uga was walked to the stadium and then was surprisingly allowed into the game by the ticket-takers.
From the stands that day, Uga caused much excitement and, soon afterwards, Seiler was asked by head football coach Wally Butts if his bulldog could be the school’s mascot.
The rest, as they say, is history...
5) Retreating Tiger
In 1978, Georgia played at LSU in raucous Tiger Stadium for the first time in 26 years. While Coach Dooley was out on the field before the game, he witnessed the unimaginable.
Apparently, Uga III was invading the space of LSU’s mascot, Mike IV, near the tiger’s cage. Mike ran up to the cage’s edge and roared loudly but Uga didn’t budge. Infuriated, Mike got on his hind legs, rattled the cage, and roared even louder.
Not phased a bit, Uga charged the cage, barking ferociously at the opposing mascot. Mike sheepishly retreated to the back of his cage.
Upon seeing this, Dooley was instantly inspired and returned to his team in the dressing room. “Let’s go, men… we’ve got ‘em tonight!” he shouted to the Bulldogs prior to entering the field.
Georgia, a seven-point underdog, would go on to defeat LSU by a touchdown. But it was another bulldog, who was the first to pull an upset in Baton Rouge that night, prevailing over a 450-pound Bengal tiger.
4) Movie Star Mascot
First, Uga IV was mentioned in John Berendt’s best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil when Swann Seiler says to her father Sonny, “Daddy, it’s time to dress Uga.” Next, his son Uga V, appeared in the 1997 movie version of the book.
Prior to filming of the movie, director Clint Eastwood met Uga for the first time. “Uga, I’m going to make you a celebrity,” said Eastwood. “Mr. Eastwood,” said Cecelia Seiler, “Uga is already a celebrity.”
In the film, Uga is taken for a walk through Savannah’s Forsyth Park by John Cusack and Kevin Spacey shortly following the opening of the movie.
3) Herschel and the Heisman
In early December 1982 at New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club, while Georgia’s Herschel Walker earned the recognition as only the second Bulldog to win the Heisman Trophy, Uga IV became the first mascot to ever appear at the trophy’s ceremony.
Accompanied by Sonny Seiler, Uga wore his standard red jersey with a “G” on the chest but, like his owner and Walker, dressed up for the occasion by also sporting a black bow tie.
Prior to the ceremony, Seiler tried to get Uga to do his business in Central Park but to no avail.
This dawned on Seiler during the ceremony and he thought to himself, “what if he misbehaves right here at the Heisman banquet!” Fortunately for Seiler and the crowd gathered at the Downtown Athletic Club, Uga was able to hold it.
In the January 2000 edition of Dog Fancy magazine, Uga’s appearance at the Heisman gala was listed as one of the “100 Great Dog Moments of the Century.”
2) Cover Boy
Recognized as the country’s “No. 1 Mascot,” Uga V became the first live college mascot to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was featured in the April 28, 1997 edition.
Uga posed for photographers for seven hours at his home in Savannah for the perfect cover shot while “working harder than any swimsuit model,” joked Joan Stroer of the Athens Banner-Herald.
“He was worn out [during the photo shoot],” said Sonny Seiler. “He’d thought he’d played Georgia Tech.”
1) Taking a Bite at Baker
Only several months prior to him gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated , Uga became a household name, if he wasn’t already, to college football fans everywhere by defending his territory on enemy turf.
Georgia, who had won only three of eight games, played at Auburn on November 16, 1996, as decisive underdogs. Not surprisingly, the Tigers scored first on a touchdown pass caught by wide receiver Robert Baker in the opening quarter.
As Baker crossed the goal line and waltz through the end zone onto the sidelines, he began to saunter up to Uga V, showing a lack of respect to Georgia and its mascot.
Feeling threatened, Uga dove for Baker (SEE VIDEO). If not for Charles Seiler pulling back the dog’s leash and Baker quickly moving out of the way, Uga would have likely bitten the Plainsman in his privates.
Uga V’s widely-known bite at Baker was later recognized as ESPN’s “Play of the Year.”
Georgia would eventually win the game 56-49 in four overtimes—its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent in 15 attempts and nearly four years.
Nevertheless, more so than the Bulldogs’ unforgettable victory, the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” of 1996 is remembered for an individual bulldog not backing down to an arch rival.