SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – He did not have his father's record or his grandfather's notoriety, but Uga VII had everything that makes a University of Georgia mascot.
A broad breast to symbolize bulldog pride. A carefree waddle to confer confidence. And, mostly, a place in the heart of every bulldog fan that every Uga has held for 53 years.
"Uga is more than just a dog,'' said Diane Parker, president of the Savannah chapter of the UGA Alumni Association. "He's everything to the UGA nation.''
And like each of the six bulldog mascots before him, Uga VII represented everything about Georgia football.
Players come and go, seasons change, but Uga is the enduring symbol of the program and of the university, in Athens and across the nation.
"I don't know how you can be a college football fan and be from the south and love the SEC and college football the way we do and not be upset by something like this,'' said Cliff McCurry, a longtime Georgia fan. "Even if you're a rival team.''
There will be a sadness at Sanford Stadium Saturday night, when Uga's house sits empty for the game against Kentucky.
But fans will be hoping that in sorrow the real Dawgs will find inspiration, that the legacy of Uga VII was not in his 23 games on the sidelines, by far the shortest tenure for a Georgia bulldog mascot, but in the weeks ahead.
"I hope it fires them up,'' McCurry said of Uga VII's passing. "I know there won't be a dry eye in the stadium when they lay the wreath at the Uga graves. Hopefully that's going to fire up the team for the next two weeks.''
And stand as a tribute to Uga VII for years to come.