UGA Nickname & Mascot History
All of the following information was discovered through Patrick's personal extensive research and is not considered "official" in accordance to the University of Georgia. If you have any additional details/information or believe some sort of error or omission has been made, please email Samples@patrickgarbin.com.
A drawing of mascot Hodgson following a UGA baseball win in 1897
In 1938, or around the time a live bulldog was declared the University of Georgia's official mascot, a debate erupted on campus regarding the origin of the Bulldog as the symbol and spirit of the school. Athens businessman Morton S. Hodgson, who was Georgia's first four-letter athlete and grandfather of star receiver Pat Hodgson of the 1960s, announced that "Bulldogs" had become a nickname of the UGA football squad when he himself was the team mascot as a small child. Hodgson was highly respected in the community; he had been involved in numerous organizations while at UGA and often spoke to groups of students on "home life and religion" after graduation. However, although Hodgson was definitely the school's BASEBALL mascot during the 1890s, his claim of serving the football team, as well, has never been substantiated.
"Old Tub" in a 1901 edition of The Atlanta Constitution
Lewis Green, better known as "Old Tub," was a blind African-American man who sold apples and peanuts on UGA's campus for years during the late 1800s - early 1900s. Living in a cabin next to campus, Old Tub was adored by students and was regarded as "one of the landmarks of Athens." He was particularly known for the stories he would tell students, including one tale of his journey to Hell and back (he also told a story of his roundtrip visit to Heaven). Old Tub was considered somewhat of a school mascot. In fact, as listed in a "College Alphabet" in the 1890 Pandora: T is for tub, the college Mascot. Leading up to the 1892 Georgia-Auburn game, it was strongly suggested among students that the 79-year-old Tub be the Red and Black's mascot for the contest.
|Photo believed to be from 1892 Georgia-Auburn game|
For Georgia's inaugural football season of 1892, the team had no nickname per se, but was often referred to as the Red and Black or Varsity. For the team's second game against Auburn in Atlanta, UGA's mascot was not Old Tub but Sir William, a goat, who had also been in attendance for Georgia's first game against Mercer three weeks beforehand. Owned by UGA student Bob Gantt, the goat wore a black coat with the letters "U.G." in red and also donned a hat with trailing ribbons down his horns. Auburn, whose fans greeted Sir William with the cry of "Shoot the Billy goat," also brought its own mascot -- Dabble, a "negro boy."
Henry Brown in 1893
When the Georgia football squad faced the Savannah Athletic Club in front of 5,000 spectators in Savannah in 1893, the host team ironically had a bulldog mascot named "Brag." During the first half of a scoreless tie as UGA neared Savannah's goal, Brag broke loose from his handler onto the field and "battled with [fullback Henry] Brown's hair." The act was considered by Georgia players to be done purposely to interfere with the possibility of them scoring. Indeed, UGA would not score on that possession, or any other that followed, and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Trilby and her owner in 1894
For the 1894 season, UGA was represented by a solid white bull terrier named "Trilby." Owned by Charles S. Black, Trilby appeared one afternoon with one of her 13 puppies at a football practice. Reportedly, it was then one of the players from the '94 team declared, "Well, Trilby has brought us a name -- 'Bulldogs.'"
From The Red and Black in 1900
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Georgia football team was also being referred to as the Crackers.
Beginning with the release of Dr. John Stegeman's The Ghosts of Herty Field in 1966, the bulldog was thought to have become associated with the University of Georgia just prior to the 1901 Georgia-Auburn football game. However, nearly 50 years after the book's release, Maury Ingram, an Atlanta resident and Auburn alum, presented evidence to the contrary. Ingram revealed a pinback dated from 1898, 1899, or 1900 (image), and a poem from 1898 associating UGA with the bulldog. CLICK for more details on Ingram's 2014 history-changing discovery.
"The Georgia Bulldog" from UGA's 1922 Pandora
During the aforementioned "Bulldogs" dispute of 1938, Frederick J. Ball--a photographer who owned a studio in Athens--claimed that in 1904, he became the first to adopt the concept of the Bulldog as the school's mascot. Ball indicated he got the idea just before a baseball game against Georgia Tech that year, when he overheard someone complain about UGA not having a mascot while another compared the appearance of a Georgia player with that of a bulldog. UGA's Pandora of 1922 even attributed the Athens photographer with the origin of the mascot. Of course, in charge of all photos used in the school annual, Ball was connected with the publishing of the Pandora for more than two decades, including the 1922 edition.
From the Atlanta Constitution in May 1911
The first time the nickname "Bulldogs" was attached with a Georgia team was during the school's 1911 baseball season by writer "Brown" of the Atlanta Constitution. Less than two years later in February of 1913, UGA's basketball team was recognized as the "Bulldogs" for the first time by Clark Howell, Jr. of the same newspaper.
|Clegg with Andy Griffith at G-Day in 1954|
Pleasant Stark, better known as Clegg, became the "official mascot" of the UGA football team in 1915 at 13 years old. While he served as mascot for nearly a quarter-century, Clegg worked for the athletic department in some capacity for almost 50 years until his death in 1964. During his time, he was considered the "spirit" of the team and a "storehouse of information" regarding UGA football history. Apparently, Clegg was quite an athlete as well; alumni told a story of how he once was able to throw a football from one goal post through the bars of the other post at the opposite end of the field. In 1932 during a game at Tulane, head coach Harry Mehre noticed the Green Wave's trainer wearing a flashy all-green uniform. From the very next game and going forward, Clegg donned an all-red uniform which "attracted comment from New Orleans to New Haven."
From the Atlanta Constitution in November 1916
In a preview of the 1916 Georgia-Georgia Tech game, UGA's football team is referred to as the "Bulldogs" for the first time by a Correspondent to the Atlanta Constitution.
|Georgia's 1919-20 basketball team|
Because of its small but scrappy players, Georgia's basketball team was known as the Wildcats or Wild Cats in 1919 and 1920. However, according to the Wildcats' head coach, Herman Stegeman, "the papers kidded the squad so much [about the nickname] it had to change its mascot." Nevertheless, by the fall of 1920, Georgia's football team was known as the "Wildcats" as well.
Billy Graham and Morgan Blake in 1950
After Georgia was known as the "Wildcats" for several games into the 1920 football season, Morgan Blake of the Atlanta Journal tried to establish the nickname “Bulldogs” following the fifth game of the year against Auburn "because there is a certain dignity about a bulldog, as well as ferocity, and the name is not as common as ‘Wildcats’ and ‘Tigers’." En route by train for a game at Virginia the following week, a group of Georgia players, coaches, and athletic director Dr. S.V. Sanford officially decided that “Bulldogs” would be the team’s nickname. After a Georgia victory in Charlottesville, Cliff Wheatley of the Atlanta Constitution began using “Bulldogs” instead of “Wildcats” in his game story.
|Harold "War Eagle" Ketron with an unidentified mascot in 1906|
Following Trilby in 1894 and through the 1920s, a variety of dogs -- bulldogs and other breeds -- were used as unofficial mascots of the UGA football team. Georgia fans were even admitted into athletic events for free in the early-1920s if they brought along a "suitable specimen" as mascot. However, this policy was soon dropped because the dogs would often fight on the sidelines during games. In the late-20s, a bulldog owned by a UGA veterinary professor was selected as mascot just prior to start of a football season. "Mugs" was so popular with the crowds that he, followed by his very own descendents, served as Georgia's mascots until Stinky debuted in 1951 (see below).
|Football standout Vassa Cate with mascot Count in 1938|
Eighteen years after "Bulldogs" officially became UGA's nickname, a live bulldog officially became the school's mascot. In a ceremony during halftime of the 1938 Georgia Tech game, Count -- "a ferocious English bulldog" and a descendent of Mugs -- was crowned the University of Georgia's first official mascot.
|Stinky in 1951|
Prior to the acclaimed "Uga" mascots, University records recognize only four other official UGA bulldog mascots. However, in my research, I discovered at least EIGHT mascots patrolled the Georgia sidelines over an 18-season period from 1938 to 1955. In order, Count was followed by Bozo, Baldy, Mr. Angel, while Tuffy and Butch were around the same time and often together, then came Stinky, and finally Mike. Bozo was regarded as "the ugliest houn' for miles aroun'," Baldy would perish after someone fed him ground glass, while Mr. Angel belonged to a student on campus whose name -- Bootee Coleman -- was even more amusing than her pet's. Butch and Tuffy became Georgia’s mascots after they broke free from owner Mabry Smith of Warner Robins during the Georgia Tech game in 1946. The brother and sister tandem charged onto the gridiron and chased opposing mascot Sideways, a black and white female terrier, off the field. Tuffy would serve as mascot until 1948 and Butch until the summer of 1951 when he was shot by a Warner Robins policeman.
Mike in 1955
After Butch's reign, the Athens Touchdown Club sponsored a contest in 1951 to select a new bulldog mascot, which would be the first official mascot not related to Mugs from the 1920s. Wide Winston of Rek Tech, better known as Stinky, was announced the winner during halftime of the '51 season opener against George Washington. Mike succeeded Stinky in 1954 after he was given to head coach Wally Butts by a friend in Tennessee. Mike was a brindled English Bulldog who served as mascot until passing away from natural causes in 1955.
The "Uga" Era
Uga I during his inaugural season of 1956
For 55 consecutive football seasons from 1956 through 2010, eight different Ugas served as the official mascot of the University of Georgia, while earning the distinction as one of the most celebrated live mascots in all of sports. Whereas the first six Ugas each averaged approximately 100 games of service, Uga VII and VIII combined to attend just 29 games. The 2011 football season was Georgia's first without an Uga mascot since the school's "Mike" bulldog mascot in 1955.
|Knute in the 1972 season opener against Baylor|
Over the years, there have been a handful of replacements fill in for Uga when duty called. Bugga Lou filled in for Uga II for two games in 1971. Knute was the mascot for one game in between the tenures of Uga II and Uga III. After Uga IV was injured jumping off a hotel bed, brother Otto replaced him for several games in 1986, while for one game in 1989, another brother, Magillicuddy I, also filled in for Uga IV. From 2009 through 2011, Russ replaced both Uga VII and VIII as Georgia's interim mascot for a combined total of 23 games, including the entire 14-game schedule of 2011. Entering 2012, Russ continues to serve as the school's mascot until Uga IX is chosen...
|The back of a van declares "The Big Dawg Ate" after Georgia's 44-0 victory over Florida in 1982|
In the modern era, a couple variations of the "Bulldogs" nickname have developed. During the late 1950s-early 1960s, the nickname was described at times as "hairy": Go You Hairy Dogs! Notably, an edition of The Red and Black stated in 1967, "'Hairy Dog' spoken so as to translate as 'animal' is used only in reference to the canine species [and not the Georgia players]." In the mid-1970s, the "Bulldogs" and "Dogs" nicknames were slightly altered to first proclaim Dawgs, or even Bulldawgs. The nickname "Dawgs" became especially popular in 1980 during Georgia's run to a national championship.