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Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Rush to Find Next Uga

With spring practice just a week away, plenty of discussion and debate has swirled around finding replacements at quarterback and in the secondary for Georgia, but there's still one other position battle that is sure to be creating headlines well into the summer -- that of Georgia's next mascot.

After Uga VII died suddenly last November, the search began to find his replacement, and the process isn't close to completion just yet, reports Sonny Seiler, the longtime owner of the Uga line of bulldogs.

Seiler said he is waiting on two potential litters sired by Uga VI, who served as the Georgia mascot from 1999 through 2008, but finding a suitable replacement is far from guaranteed.

"When we look at those, if and when they are born -- and we don't know that there's a take on one of them -- and we see a dog that's promising, that has what it takes to be the Georgia mascot and present the presence we look for in these dogs, then we'll set him aside and continue to watch him in hopes of having an (Uga VIII) by the start of the season," Seiler said. "But we're in no rush to do that."

Identifying the next Uga -- and the breeding process involved in doing so -- created a bit of a stir last year when PETA criticized the breeding of British bulldogs, which sometimes involves inbreeding, and suggested Georgia use a mechanical mascot instead of the live bulldog it has employed since 1956.

Seiler said he has never inbred any of his dogs, however, and said the PETA message was more about creating a stir than any genuine concern over the health of the dogs.

"We never have inbred as accused by PETA. We have never done that and never will. We find a suitable female that has absolutely no blood relations to the Uga line," Seiler said. "I know PETA, and they may have a good cause, but that's not really their cause. Their cause is publicity, and if they can dupe (journalists) into writing what they're doing, that's all the want. They just want their names to be in the paper. They're quick to criticize and they don't have their facts straight."

Seiler's careful attention to the Uga line is yet another reason Georgia fans may not learn the identity of the team's next mascot by the time UGA opens its season against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 4. Seiler said he'll be cautious to choose the right dog, and he won't allow a dog onto the field until it is old enough to properly fill the role.

"We don't want to start a dog that you can hardly see or that we can't get a fitted shirt on," Seiler said. "I'm afraid that come September, even if we selected a dog in March, he'd be six months old, and it would be debatable if we would use him or even make an announcement at that time."

If a suitable Uga VIII isn't ready by the time Georgia kicks off its season, Seiler said Russ, the 5-year-old stand-in and brother of Uga VII, will continue to fill the void.

Russ presided over Georgia's final two games in 2009 -- both victories -- but Seiler said he won't be considered for the job on a permanent basis, despite the support of many fans that he land the gig.

"There is no chance of Russ being VIII because he is too old, and we don't want to cheat the mascot out of longevity, so we would never pick a dog that old," Seiler said. "But he's served well, he's a good-looking dog, and we would not hesitate to start the season with him if we haven't selected a puppy or we've selected a puppy, but the puppy is not big enough to adequately perform."


Anonymous said...

Puppy Uga would be fantastic.

MT said...

Definitely a side story that all UGA fans will follow... if we go into the season and are still using Russ on a game-by-game basis, this might actually draw attention away somewhat from whichever new QB we have