Saturday apparently will mark the first home game since the beginning of the line of Uga mascots in 1956 that Georgia won’t have a live bulldog at a Sanford Stadium game.
According to the “Damn Good Dogs!” book written by Uga’s owner, Sonny Seiler, and Kent Hannon, there have been away games with no mascot since the current line of mascots began, most recently the 2000 Oahu Bowl when Uga VI didn’t make the trip because of Hawaii’s quarantine laws. But since Uga I made his debut on Sept. 29, 1956, there has always been one of the Ugas or a substitute at all the games in Athens.
The most famous sub was Otto, who took the place of his injured brother Uga IV for four games during the 1986 season and was co-mascot with Uga for the Tech game that season. Otto, who had a brown and black spot on his back that kept him from being considered for the official mascot (which traditionally is all-white), ended up with a 4-1 record (counting the game with both dogs) and reportedly was cited by Vince Dooley as a favorite because he came off the bench and got the job done.
There have been other subs besides Otto, though, and one of them was a real rarity. All the Ugas have been male and part of the same lineage, but in 1971, when Uga II was ailing, an unrelated brown and white female English bulldog named Bugga Lou that had been given to the Seiler family took Uga’s place for the South Carolina and Florida games, both wins. Bugga Lou wasn’t just an English bulldog, she actually hailed from England originally.
I was a sophomore at UGA at the time and I remember hearing that a “Bugga” had taken Uga’s place, but I don’t recall it being revealed that Bugga was a female. We assumed it was a son or brother. The switch was so low-key that the Jacksonville newspaper ran a photo of Bugga at the Gator Bowl that they mislabeled as “Uga.”
Uga II had sired an all-white pup named Argos that the Seilers had given to Sonny’s sister in Maryland because they didn’t think he’d be needed for mascot duty. But when Uga II died before the 1972 season and the designated Uga III wasn’t deemed quite mature enough yet, Argos (who had been renamed Knute) put on the red sweater for the home opener against Baylor, another victory. Uga III was then coronated at the second game of the season against North Carolina State.
One other time that the Seilers had to go to their bench for a mascot was the 1989 Peach Bowl, when Uga IV was ill. One of his all-white sons, Magillicuddy I, filled in at the loss to Syracuse. However, when Uga IV died after the season, Magillicuddy wasn’t considered for the mascot job because he was considered too old. A pup sired during Uga IV’s last days and born after he died got the job.
The Seilers plan on having a replacement dog at the Tech game and bowl game this season, though it probably won’t be one of the dogs in the running to be Uga VIII.
There’s still no word on when Uga VII will be interred at Sanford Stadium, though the rumor out of Butts-Mehrer is that the ceremony might happen as early as Saturday morning. UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that Uga VII will be interred sometime Saturday before the game. The ceremony will not be open to the public.
It’s good to know the Uga line will continue. But it’s going to seem awfully strange not having one of those damn good dogs roaming the sidelines on Saturday.