ATHENS -- There will be an Uga VIII. Just who he is and when he arrives are the questions.
Uga VII, the latest in a 54-year line of English bulldog mascots to represent the University of Georgia, passed away suddenly of heart complications Thursday at his home in Savannah. "Uga VI's Loran's Best," his registered name, was only 4 and had served as the school's mascot for less than two full football seasons. The team's record in his tenure -- the shortest in the history of the lineage -- was 16-7.
Because of the unexpected turn, there was no time for the Seiler family, the dogs' breeders and caretakers for more than half of a century, to come up with an interim mascot. So when the Bulldogs played Kentucky on Saturday, no live bulldog patrolled the sidelines at home for the first time since Uga I "missed a game or two in the 1950s," according to a statement released by UGA on Saturday night.
The family of Frank "Sonny" Seiler of Savannah has overseen Georgia's mascots since he and his wife, Cecelia, were UGA students in 1956. Swann Seiler, their daughter and a member of the Georgia Athletic Association's executive board, said they should have an interim mascot in place in time for the Nov. 28 game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That dog more than likely also would represent the Bulldogs at a bowl game.
But it's not likely the family will designate the bulldog that will become Uga VIII until sometime after this year. They will take their time.
Why? Because the lineage of the Georgia mascots is not something the Seilers or the university takes lightly. It is handled in much the same way as succession for the British throne.
That is, it is determined by male-preference genealogy and legitimate birth. Ultimately every mascot must be a direct descendant of his predecessor.
The Seilers were still grieving Uga VII's death this weekend and did not wish to talk about the details regarding the selection of the next mascot. Like all in the lineage, these dogs are first and foremost family pets.
"We're just trying to get though these next couple of days," Swann Seiler said Friday. "We'll deal with that later."
UGA had to select a new mascot only two years ago after Uga VI, "Uga V's Whatchatgot Loran," passed away from congestive heart failure in July 2008. In the end, it came down to a 5-month-old pup and 2-year-old "Loran's Best," who eventually was chosen.
At the time, Sonny Seiler said that they always "have options." At least one dog sired by the reigning mascot is always ready to succeed, he said.
"There's lineage out there we can depend on in unforeseen cases such as this," Swann Seiler said.
There are other considerations. First and foremost, it must be a pure-white dog. Otto, who filled in for the injured Uga IV for four games in 1986, had a small spot of brown on him. Therefore he could never be considered for a full-time duty.
The Seilers, who have sole discretion in the choice, also look for distinctive bulldog characteristics such as a big head, broad shoulders and good teeth. At the time of his appointment in 1999, Uga VI was the biggest of the line -- his epitaph reads "A Big Dog for a Big Job, And He Handled it Well" -- and Uga VII was bigger still. He weighed in at a whopping 56-1/2 pounds.
So odds are Uga VIII also will be a big dog, but it might be a while before we find out.
"Please understand, it's an emotional time for the family," Swann Seiler said. But, she added, "we have it under control."
THE UGA LINEAGE
•Uga I: "Hood’s Ole Dan" (1956-66) was named in 1956 andwas given to Cecelia Seiler by a friend, Frank Heard of Columbus. The Bulldogs had a record of 53-48-6 in his 10 years of service.
•Uga II: "Ole Dan’s Uga" (1966-72) led the Bulldogs to a 42-16-3 record, won two SEC championships and played in five bowl games.
•Uga III: "Seiler's Uga Three" (1972-80) closed out his six-year stint with a national championship and a record of 71-32-2. He retired after his 100th football game and died weeks later.
•Uga IV: "Seiler's Uga Four" (1981-89) was dubbed “Dog of the Decade” as he accompanied Herschel Walker to the Heisman Trophy ceremony and was given the highest honor available to UGA mascots -- the Georgia varsity letter. During his eight-year career, the Bulldogs compiled a record of 77-27-4.
•Uga V: "Magillicuddy II" (1990-99) was considered the most famous of the mascots. The cover of Sports Illustrated declared him the "nation's best college mascot." He appeared in Clint Eastwood's movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." The photo of him going after Auburn's Robert Baker in a 1996 game has become classic. He went 65-39-1.
•Uga VI: "Whatchagot Loran" (1999-2008) was the winningest dog in the history of the line, going 87-27 while reigning over a record 114 games. Said Sonny Seiler at his funeral: "His record speaks for itself. ... He had a great big heart, which finally played out."
•Uga VII: "Loran's Best" (2008-09) was the biggest of them all at 56½ pounds. He went 10-3 in his initial campaign. "Pretty good for a freshman," Seiler said. Just 4 at his death, his is the shortest of all tenures, 23 games. He was 16-7.
Source: UGA media guide