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Everything you need to know about Georgia’s bulldog mascot Uga

We dive into history to uncover the roots of University of Georgia’s beloved mascot, Uga, which represents the essence of everything Georgia.

We dive into history to uncover the roots of University of Georgia’s beloved mascot, Uga, which represents the essence of everything Georgia.
Dale ZanineUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

For college sports enthusiasts, the University of Georgia and its iconic mascot, Uga, hold significant places in popular culture, especially in the realm of football, where the red and black colors are prominent.

But have you ever wondered about the origins of the bulldog name and its connection to the University of Georgia? Let’s delve into history to uncover the roots of Georgia’s beloved mascot.

Are they called the Bulldogs because of Yale?

The association between Georgia and the bulldog might surprise you, and it has nothing to do with a rivalry, as is often the case with college sports. The origins of this connection are somewhat benign.

“Many old-timers say Georgia acquired the nickname, Bulldogs, because of the strong ties with Yale, whose nickname is Bulldogs,” the University of Georgia’s website states. “Georgia’s first president, Abraham Baldwin, was a Yale man, and the early buildings on campus were designed from blueprints of the same building at Yale.”

While that narrative could be compelling, there is another interpretation to consider.

“But on November 3, 1920, Morgan Blake of The Atlanta Journal wrote about school nicknames and said, ‘The Georgia Bulldogs’ would sound good because there is a certain dignity about a bulldog, as well as ferocity,’” the write-up continues. “After a 0-0 tie with Virginia in Charlottesville on November 6, 1920, Atlanta Constitution writer Cliff Wheatley used the name ‘Bulldogs’ in his story five times. The name has been used ever since.

The last part of that statement is undoubtedly accurate. Whether the inspiration came from Yale, the collective character of the school, or some other source, the bulldog’s name stuck and became an integral part of the college sports culture.

When was the Bulldog title adopted?

Interestingly, there was a time when UGA’s football team did not bear the bulldog moniker. According to the school’s library, the football program was established in 1892, and during its early years, its mascot was a goat adorned with a blanket featuring ‘UG’ across its back, along with a hat adorned with red and black ribbons. However, this arrangement only lasted for a few games.

Additionally, Georgia initially did not have an official nickname. “During these early years, the U of G teams had no official mascot or nickname, usually being known as ‘The Red and Black,’ but also being referred to at various times and in various accounts as ‘The Varsities,’ ‘The Athenians,’ ‘The Georgians,’ and, in at least one newspaper account, ‘The Huskies,’” the library explanation noted.

It wasn’t until 1920 that the “Bulldogs” nickname was formally adopted, providing the university with a consistent identity that endures to this day.

Georgia’s affinity for bulldogs extends beyond a mere nickname. There is also a live canine, known as Uga, named after the school’s abbreviation, who plays a significant role in the game-day experience.

Long line of UGAs

As detailed on the athletics department’s “History of the UGA Mascot” website, there were other bulldogs before, but Uga I made his debut in 1956. To this day, the mascot bulldog is a descendant of that original Uga and inherits both the name and the famous spiked collar when it’s time to take center stage.

The live bulldogs come from a special lineage owned by a single family.

As per the Georgia athletic website, “This lineage of pure white English bulldogs, representing the essence of everything Georgia, has been under the ownership of the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family from Savannah, Georgia, since the arrival of Uga I on campus in 1956.

Over the years, Uga has become synonymous with his iconic spiked collar, symbolizing his esteemed role. His name, an abbreviation for the university, was bestowed upon him by William Young of Columbus, a law school classmate of Seiler. Each Uga mascot is honored with a varsity letter in the form of a plaque, mirroring the recognition given to all Bulldog athletes who earn letters in their respective sports.”

Currently, the university is on Uga XI, who assumed the role for the 2023 campaign. Uga X retired, and the current four-legged representative took the reins during the spring.