Uga IX, aka ‘Russ’: From Solid Backup to Top Dawg


Being the best mascot in the country is no small task, and Uga IX, a.k.a. “Russ”, deserves all the praise in the world.

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Uga, the English Bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia, has been a beloved symbol of the Bulldog Nation since 1956. So, when Russ had to first step into an interim role in 2009, he had a big sweater to fill. He came in, and he got the job done, finishing off the 2009 season and starting the 2010 season before a new Uga VIII was named.

Russ then went back to his spot on the bench. Less than two months later though, Uga VIII tragically went down with what would be lymphoma, and Russ, like a backup quarterback, came back to again be the interim Uga.

Now, you might think, why not make Russ the new Uga? Well, certain questions kept that from happening, such as:

What will the fans think about him not being all-white?

Or the fact that he’s not 100% from the Uga bloodline?

Is he too old to be a full-time Uga?

Well, eventually, justice was served and before the 2012 season, Russ, brown spots and all, was crowned Uga IX.

Now Russ is entering his fourth season as the official Uga IX, and he’s done one hell of a job. In his time in the dawg house on the sidelines (including his interim days), Georgia football has gone 40-17, for a winning percentage of 70.2%, as well as capturing SEC East titles in 2011 and 2012.

Russ is loved by all Georgia fans, as seen by the huge lines of people trying to get a picture with him whenever there are photo-ops. He’s been known to be especially friendly with younger fans, which is always important for a mascot. His brown spots, which were once working against him, are now often complimented. Russ has done in part in keeping Uga ranked as the best mascot in college sports by many publications.

So, here’s to a Damn Good Dawg. You’ve done a most outstanding job as the wrinkly face of the University of Georgia for the past six years.  Thank you for being the greatest backup in the history of sports. Thank you for always being there for the DawgNation, even when they wouldn’t let you wear the spiked collar.

Thank you, Russ, and here’s to many more years as Uga.