For the second time in a little more than a year, University of Georgia fans once again are mourning the passing of the latest in the line of the school’s bulldog mascots. And, lest we forget, the Seiler family of Savannah, which has provided the Ugas for half a century, has lost family pets.
Uga VIII, who was named the official mascot in October, died recently, a few weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, after serving as the mascot for the final half of last season. Sadly, he missed a bowl appearance with the team in December, after a gastrointestinal ailment kept him from flying to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.
Uga VIII had taken over the mascot duties from Russ, the 5-year-old half brother of Uga VII.
And now, once again, Russ is stepping in to handle mascot duties until an Uga IX is named.
Now, certainly, there’s something to be said for maintaining the unbroken bloodline of the Ugas. It’s a long-standing tradition and, as such, would be hard to break. But there’s a compelling case to be made for keeping Russ on as the official mascot for at least one season.
First, given the reverence of the Bulldog Nation for the Ugas, it’s only fitting that a dog like Russ, who served as the mascot following one Uga’s death and is now doing the same for a second time, should be honored for the dedication he’s shown to honoring the mascots’ memories.
Additionally, Russ has served as a touchstone for fans in times of adversity, both for the official mascots and for the athletic program that he represents.
Whether for a single year or for as long as he might be able, Russ is more than deserving of a stint as one of the most storied and most loved mascots in all of college sports.