It’s college football’s 150th season, and Sports Illustrated is celebrating the anniversary by ranking the top 10 greatest mascots in the history of the game.
After evaluating all of the real-life animals in addition to the costumed mascots, the sports magazine named the University of Georgia’s Uga as the greatest mascot in college football history.
The iconic all-white English bulldog that can be spotted on the sidelines wherever the Bulldogs play football was picked ahead of several other living mascots, and those that represent some of Georgia’s SEC rivals.
“Georgia’s line of pure white English bulldogs, now on No. 10, has been a staple of the mascot landscape since 1956,” Torrey Hart wrote in the Sports Illustrated article.
Much of college football’s greatness is found in its pageantry and traditions, from bowl games to awards like the Heisman Trophy.
While mascots are a part of that tradition, Uga has many of its own traditions as a fixture at Georgia.
While every bulldog that represents Georgia is christened Uga — the current is Uga X — each has its own name as well, Sports Illustrated reported.
Que, like his predecessors, has his own custom-made jerseys, for home and road games, and a varsity letter, according to Sports Illustrated.
Many of Georgia’s games are too hot for an English bulldog to safely patrol the sidelines, so Uga can usually be found chilling in his own air-conditioned on-field doghouse, per Sports Illustrated.
And when an Uga dies, his remains are buried in a marble vault at Athens’ Sanford Stadium, according to the magazine. The Ugas have earned the moniker “Damn Good Dog,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
All of the Ugas have been owned by the Seiler family of Savannah, and this is not the first time Sports Illustrated has recognized the English bulldogs. In 1997, Uga was named the nation’s best college mascot by the magazine, which featured Uga V on the cover after he appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” according to georgiadogs.com.
Live animal mascots date to 1889, when Yale student Andrew Graves started bringing his English bulldog, which would become the first iteration of Yale’s mascot, Handsome Dan, to football and baseball games, according to Yale News.
Among the other live animal mascots Uga beat on Sports Illustrated’s top 10 list are Tennessee’s Smokey (a dog at No. 10), Colorado’s Ralphie the Buffalo (No. 6), Texas’ Bevo (longhorn steer at No. 4) and LSU’s Mike the Tiger (No. 3).
Uga and Bevo had a run-in before the Sugar Bowl in January.
While pacing in his pen, Bevo XV put his head down and the 1,700-pound longhorn knocked over one of his barriers, charging toward Uga as his handler pulled the 60-pound dog’s leash away from the situation, McClatchy news group reported.
A couple of Bevo’s handlers put themselves between the longhorn, whose horns are 58 inches tip to tip, according to the Daily Texan.
In 1996, it was Uga V that was the aggressor, when the bulldog famously lunged at Auburn receiver Robert Baker after he scored a touchdown, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.
While the University of South Carolina does have a live animal mascot, a rooster named Sir Big Spur, its costumed mascot Cocky was included in the top 10.
“Cocky has his own workout videos, and is well-regarded among many fanbases for his “Magic Box” entrance on football gamedays,” Sports Illustrated said of the Gamecocks mascot when ranking it at No. 7 on the list.
Sports Illustrated 10 greatest mascots in college football history
10. University of Tennessee: Smokey (Bluetick Coonhound)
9. Syracuse University: Otto the Orange
8. Western Kentucky University: Big Red
7. University of South Carolina: Cocky the Gamecock
6. University of Colorado: Ralphie the Buffalo
5. Stanford University: The Tree
4. University of Texas: Bevo (longhorn steer)
3. Louisiana State University: Mike the Tiger
2. University of Oregon: The Duck
1. University of Georgia: Uga (English bulldog)
Source: Sports Illustrated