Georgia will open the football season with a new quarterback, a new defense — but no new Uga.
Sonny Seiler, owner of the English bulldogs that have served as Georgia’s mascot since 1956, has informed UGA President Michael Adams and athletics director Damon Evans that the next Uga won’t be ready for action by the start of the football season.
That means Russ, the 5-year-old half-brother of the late Uga VII, will continue to fill in as the Bulldogs’ mascot for the Sept. 4 opener and at least one or two more games, if not longer.
“We’ll be fine. Russ will do his job,” Evans said today. “We’re fortunate to have a family like the Seilers who take care of Uga and are always able to provide us with a good quality dog, and they will do so again this year.”
Seiler has identified several puppies — offpspring of the Uga VI line — as candidates to become Uga VIII, but none of them will be big enough by the start of the season. Puppies in a new litter due this month also might be considered.
“I think he wants to ease [the dog] into the season, like we do freshmen sometimes,” Adams said.
So, Russ’ reign will last a bit longer.
He took over after Uga VII died unexpectedly in November, serving as the Bulldogs’ mascot for an upset win at Georgia Tech and an Independence Bowl victory over Texas A&M. Seiler has said that Russ is too old to be considered for the position of Uga VIII; a younger dog is preferred to increase the chances of a long tenure.
The issue of the next Uga is no small matter in Bulldog Nation. In fact, Adams said with a laugh today, the UGA presidency is “one of the few gigs in the world where you’re always second place to a dog.”
Russ isn’t the first interim bulldog mascot in Georgia football history. The most famous was Otto, who filled in for four games in 1986 when his younger brother Uga IV was sidelined with a knee injury. Georgia went 3-1 with Otto as mascot. Uga IV and Otto then served as co-mascots as Georgia beat Georgia Tech in the 1986 regular-season finale.
Georgia opens the 2010 season at home against Louisiana-Lafayette, then has two difficult SEC games –- at South Carolina on Sept. 11 and vs. Arkansas in Athens on Sept. 18. You know that if the Bulldogs come through those games undefeated with Russ on the job, there will be a lot of barking from fans to keep him in place.