In the last 100 years of intercollegiate football, Georgia’s UGA has established himself as the nation’s most well-known mascot. The line of pure white English bulldogs, which epitomizes everything Georgia, has been owned by the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family of Savannah, GA, since UGA I first graced the campus in 1956.
Through the years, UGA has been defined by his spiked collar, a symbol of the position which he holds. He was given his name, an abbreviation for the university, by William Young of Columbus, a law school classmate of Seiler. Each of the UGA mascots is awarded a varsity letter in the form of a plaque, identical to those presented to all Bulldog athletes who letter in their respective sports.
As determined and published by the Pittsburgh Press, the University of Georgia is the only major college that actually buries its mascots within the confines of the stadium. Ugas I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII are buried in marble vaults near the main gate in the embankment of the South stands. Epitaphs to the dogs are inscribed in bronze, and before each home game, flowers are placed on their graves. The memorial plot attracts hundreds of fans and visitors each year.
For the past 20 years, UGA’s jerseys have been custom-made at the beginning of each season from the same material used for the players’ jerseys. Old jerseys are destroyed.
UGA’s on-field home is a permanent air conditioned doghouse located next to the cheerleaders’ platform, providing comfort in the heat of August and September.
But how did it all begin? How did UGA become UGA? Well…
It all began in 1894 with a solid white female bull terrier owned by a student, Charles H. Black, Sr., of Atlanta. The dog’s name was Trilby, named after a novel by George Du Maurier, served as the campus pet and mascot for the Chi Phi fraternity.
There are many stories that speculate the origin of the Bulldog nickname, and the story of Trilby provides yet another opinion, but one version of the story is that:
“…every day Trilby took herself down to old Herty field with her master for football practice. She ran signals with the best of them and became an accustomed figure on the athletic field…One morning, Trilby failed to appear for her breakfast and after a frantic search she was finally discovered proudly washing the faces of her newborn family, 13 white puppies…Late one dusky fall afternoon, Trilby appeared for a grid workout and scampering after her came her 13 children, darting through players’ legs, barking and pace. ‘Well,’ suggested one of the players, ‘Trilby has brought us a name, Bulldogs.’ …Every time a game was played on Herty Field, the boys would floss Trilby and her 13 offerings up with red and black ribbons, and so attired they have gone down in history as perhaps the first ‘sponsors’ in southern football.” —Ruth Stanton Cogill (Atlanta newspaper)
“After the reign of Trilby and her family, chaos developed in the mascot department at the university. Many games had several, depending on which alumnus got his dog to the game first.” —AJC, Nov. 18, 1962
However, the Bulldog wasn’t the first Georgia mascot. In fact, Georgia’s mascot for its first football game against Auburn, February 22, 1892 in Atlanta, Ga., was a goat. Old newspaper clippings indicate that the goat wore a black coat with red U.G. letters on each side. He also had on a hat with ribbons all down his high horns, and the Auburn fans yelled throughout the game “shoot the billy-goat.”
From around 1944 to 1955, there were a variety of mascots that represented UGA. From 1944-1946, Mr. Angel a brindle and white colored English Bulldog owned by Eastman, Ga., physician, Warren Coleman, filled a void during some of the war years. There was no mascot roaming the sidelines and Coleman took Mr. Angel to games and stood with him on the sidelines. His picture on the field and with the Georgia cheerleaders appears in the 1945 and ’46 UGA annual, the Pandora. Then, there was Butch, a brindled English bulldog owned by Mabry Smith of Warner Robins, GA. He was spotted by students who were attending the 1946 Georgia-Georgia Tech game in Athens, and the canine appeared to be suited for the mascot position. Smith agreed to loan Butch to the University during the football season along with a female puppy named Tuffy. The female died of a heart attack following the Georgia-Kentucky game in 1948, but Butch continued to serve. Butch was succeeded by Mike who served as mascot from 1951 to 1955, another brindled English bulldog, owned by C. L. Fain. Mike lived in the field house on campus and died of natural canine causes in 1955. As his master’s thesis, Gene Owens of Fort Worth, Texas, cast the bronze statue of Mike, which is located at the entrance of Memorial Hall.
Then, in 1956 came UGA I. The beginning of the current UGA line of solid white English bulldogs. UGA I was named Hood’s Ole Dan and was born Dec. 2, 1955, in Columbus, GA. UGA I was given to Cecelia Seiler by a friend, Frank Heard of Columbus and appeared in his first game in the 1956 home opener.
“His original red jerseys were made by Cecelia. It was necessary to take up children’s t-shirts to fit the dog in the right places. There is no telling how many of these jersey’s he wore out. During the early games in Athens, especially the hot ones before he had a dog house, the large green hedges that surround Sanford Stadium afford welcomed shade in the heat of battle. Unfortunately, the hedges constantly tore these jerseys and new ones had to be made.” -Sonny Seiler
UGA I was succeeded by his son, Ole Dan’s Uga at an impressive pregame ceremony at Homecoming, 1966. With the Georgia Redcoat Band lining the field, UGA II was led to the center of the field by Charles Seiler, son of Sonny and Cecelia. The student body erupted in a cheer that was picked up by the entire stadium, “Damn Good Dog!” UGA II had an impressive reign as he watched Georgia participate in five bowl games and win two SEC championships.
Born October 9, 1972 , Seiler’s UGA III was present for Georgia football’s finest moment as Herschel Walker took the Bulldogs to the 1980 National
Championship. He had led Georgia to six bowl games in nine years and closed out his career in ultimate fashion winning the 1980 NCAA championship. UGA III retired on the 100th football game of his career, marking the season-opener of the 1981. He died just weeks later.
UGAa IV was perhaps the most active of all the Georgia mascots, standing as the only one to attend a bowl game every year of his service (1981-89). He took over for UGA III in the 1981 season opener and over the next nine seasons, led Georgia to a record of 77-27-4. The highlight of his career was his personal appearance at the Heisman Trophy Banquet with Herschel Walker in New York on December 9, 1982. UGA IV was escorted through the banquet hall by the president of the Downtown Athletic Club, and was earlier photographed with Herschel by news photographers from across the country. The proud Bulldog donned his game jersey for the outing but added the formal touch of a collar and black tie. UGA IV was the first mascot invited to the Heisman Banquet.
Declared “Dog of the Decade” by Vince Dooley in 1991, UGA IV was posthumously awarded the highest honor available to University of Georgia mascots – the Georgia varsity letter.
Although Otto was not pure white like his father, he was called upon to fill in for his younger brother, UGA IV, who injured ligaments in his left hind knee when jumping off a hotel bed before the Vanderbilt contest. In four games during the 1986 season, Otto led the team to a 3-1 record and also co-mascotted (along with UGA IV), a victory over instate rival Georgia Tech. After winning his first two games, fans cheered, “2-and-0 with Otto!” Dooley, serving as head coach during Otto’s brief tenure, favored the substitute the most. “I have always had a great affection for those who came off the bench and performed, and he did that and had a great time,” Dooley said. Otto is buried in the Seiler’s backyard.
In the first game of 1990, UGA V officially began his reign as the Georgia mascot taking over from his father UGA IV, who passed away at his home in Savannah on Feb. 26, 1990. UGA V was the last pup sired by UGA IV and was born on March 6, 1990.
Named in honor of one of the greatest Bulldogs, Dan Magill, former Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations and longtime tennis coach and sports information director. Surprisingly, the Seiler family became aware that UGA IV’s mate was expecting only 10 days before the litter was due. This notice came a week after UGA IV had passed away at his home in Savannah from kidney failure. There were only three pups in the litter and the last one born on March 6 was the only solid white male.
UGA V had been perhaps the most well known of all the Bulldog mascots highlighted by his appearance on the cover of the April 28, 1997, Sports Illustrated which declared him the nation’s best college mascot. Rocketed to stardom, he also appeared in Clint Eastwood’s “Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil” – filmed in his hometown of Savannah, Ga. UGA V also presided over Georgia’s most successful collective sporting effort in department history as the Bulldogs claimed four NCAA team titles during the 1998-99 season – women’s swimming and diving, women’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and men’s golf – and placed second in the Directors’ Cup race. He died on Nov. 22, 1999, just over two months after his retirement.
In 2007, UGA VI became the winningest mascot in school history with a record of 87-27. He reigned over more games than any other mascot at 114.
The pregame passing of the bone ceremony from UGA V to his heftier and friskier son, Whatchagot Loran, took place at the 1999 Georgia-South Carolina contest. Only a year old at his coronation, UGA VI stands as the biggest of all the UGA mascots weighing in at 65 pounds – 20 pounds heavier than his father.
His first season climaxed in a magnificent come from behind victory over Purdue at the Outback Bowl in Tampa. The comeback from a 25-point deficit marked an unprecedented feat in Georgia annals and the largest comeback in collegiate bowl history.
The 2000 season ended in Hawaii, but due to the distance and a quarantine rule, UGA VI missed the O’ahu Bowl, marking the first time the Georgia mascot had missed a postseason game since the 1969 Sun Bowl.
Alongside first-year head coach Mark Richt, UGA VI saw his third consecutive 8-4 season.The 2002 Bulldogs won a record 13 games (to only one loss), and topped Arkansas to win the program’s first league title since 1982. And UGA VI roamed the sidelines as the Bulldogs defeated Florida State in the 2003 Nokia Sugar Bowl, 26-13.
The wins kept piling up for UGA VI and the Bulldogs in 2003, as the team posted an 11-3 record, returned to the SEC Championship game before falling to eventual National Champion LSU. Georgia held on for a 34-27 overtime victory against Purdue in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
In the 2004 season, the Bulldogs posted a 10-2 record with a 24-21 win against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.
Year 2005 ended with a record of 10-3 and a loss in the Nokia Sugar Bowl 38-35 against West Virginia on January 2, 2006. The game was played in Atlanta, GA. due to destruction in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Georgia returned to Atlanta, GA to defeat Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on December 30, 2006 to end the 2006 season with a 9-4 record.
The Bulldogs defeated the Hawaii Warriors 41-10 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2008 in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, La. ending the 2007 season ranked second in the AP poll.
The seventh in the UGA line of Georgia mascots was introduced to the Georgia fans on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008, during pre-game ceremonies of the Bulldogs’ season opener against Georgia Southern.
“Loran’s Best” officially became “UGA VII,” when he was introduced. UGA VII was escorted onto the field by members of the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family of Savannah who have owned the continuous line of mascots since UGA I took up the mantle in 1956. The first year was a success for the laidback mascot. He was not bothered by flying in an airplane, taking photos with excited fans and was oblivious to the crowd noise during games.
UGA VII, at 56 and one half pounds, completed the 2008 season with a 24-12 win at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando and ended his first season with a record of 10-3.
UGA VII passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 19, 2009 of heart-related causes. It was the Thursday before the final home game of the 2009 season and the Bulldogs did not have a live mascot at the game. Instead, a wreath was placed on UGA VII’s doghouse, and the players wore a special UGA VII decal on their helmets to remember him.
The eighth in the UGA line of Georgia mascots was introduced to the Georgia fans on Saturday, October. 16, 2010, during pre-game ceremonies of the Bulldogs’ Homecoming game against Vanderbilt.
Born Sept. 12, 2009, he served the final six regular season games of 2010 before missing the Bowl game after a diagnosis of lymphoma and later passing away Friday, February 4, 2011.
And then there was “Russ,” possibly one of the most beloved UGA mascots, though, not the traditional solid white Bulldog.
“Russ” served as the Bulldog Mascot a total of 25 games beginning with the Georgia Tech game in Atlanta in 2009 helping his squad to a 30-24 win. Russ worked a total of nine games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Following the unexpected death of UGA VII on Nov. 19, 2009, Russ served as interim mascot the final two games of the 2009 season and the first six games of 2010. UGA VIII was introduced on Oct. 16, 2010 prior to the Georgia-Vanderbilt game. Russ was pressed back into duty prior to the 2010 Liberty Bowl and stayed on following the untimely death of UGA VIII in February, 2011.
He roamed the sidelines at all 14 games during the 2011 season. He then served for two wins at the beginning of the 2012 season before being promoted as UGA IX prior to the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 15, 2012. His time as mascot has included the 2011 and 2012 SEC Eastern Division championship, two road wins at Georgia Tech, a victory over Texas A&M in the 2009 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. and a win at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fl. on January 1, 2013 against Nebraska. UGA IX finished 2013 with an 8-5 record. He completed the 2014 season with a 10-3 mark, capped by a victory over 20th-ranked Louisville in the Belk Bowl.
He was the first substitute mascot since “Otto” in 1986.
“Russ has endeared himself to the Georgia people over the last three years,” said UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “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.”
The University of Georgia formally introduced UGA X, known as “Que,” at Georgia’s game against Georgia Southern on November 21, 2015. He succeeded UGA IX, affectionately known as “Russ,” as the Bulldog mascot. Que served as the primary mascot for all the games of 2015 but was officially named UGA X in the game against Georgia Southern.
Love reading about the history of the University of Georgia? CLICK HERE to also learn about the history of the UGA Small Business Development Center.