Georgia football games this season will be missing a well-known attraction.
Uga, the iconic live bulldog mascot, won’t be present due to COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s my understanding the SEC and NCAA consider the field a ‘bubble,’ and the only people allowed in the bubble are essential,” said Charles Seiler, the white English bulldogs’ handler and owner. “As of now, no dog on the field.”
Uga X, whose name is Que, assumed the mascot role on Nov. 21, 2015 after three months of an audition of sorts. There is no plan to have the dog in Athens elsewhere in the stadium as of now.
“The whole idea is to have not people to congregate,” Seiler said, “and if you know anything about the dog he’s kind of a magnet and he draws people and they’re trying to avoid that.”
The last time an Uga was not on the sideline for a home game was Nov. 21, 2009 when Uga VII died suddenly two days earlier.
“He’s by far the biggest celebrity on the field when Georgia plays,” former Georgia offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb has said.
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The now 7-year old dog who weighs 62 pounds is busy on the visiting team sidelines. Those with field access often stop by his dog house to try and snap a photo with Uga, named by Sports Illustrated in 2019 as the greatest mascot.
Uga has lived in a virtual world since a St. Patrick’s Day parade he was to attend in March was cancelled due to the pandemic. His last gig was a UGA student caravan at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah.
Charles Seiler, whose family has owned and cared for the line of bulldogs since 1956, has sent photos and videos to the school of UgaX from his home in Savannah to use. He was live during a portion the virtual G-Day game in April and did two nights in a row an alumni association event.
The first Uga was a wedding gift to Sonny and Cecelia Seiler in 1956 when they still were students at the UGA
“I have a feeling that as the season rolls around, typically the networks figure out what games are happening and what they want and do they need some color or some filler,” Seiler said. “If we’re not in Athens, we’ll do it virtually or Zoom.”
He said Georgia senior deputy athletic director Josh Brooks is “an inventive kind of guy and he’s thinking about ways to get the dog up there and doing things. The problem is at the end of the day, the dog’s very approachable and that’s what makes him so popular and we can’t approach. So his gig is kind of messed up. Until we can figure out something else, we’re kind of stuck. …At the end of the day, we want to keep people safe and keep the dog safe.”