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Watch this. You'll understand.
Looking good, dog.
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Sorry, no post yesterday, but I have an excuse.
See, I was going to go to the UGA game versus Florida Atlantic University with Trey. However, I simply couldn't make myself care about spending 5 hours in a car (not to mention the $40 in gas and $20 for parking) to witness the Bulldogs beat a 43-point underdog. The only draw for the game was the ceremony to officially declare Russ, the UGA fill-in mascot for the past 3 years, as the official UGA IX. I'm not really big on ceremonies, so at the last minute, we decided not go.
Our plan was instead to sit around the house with Mom and watch the Florida/Tennessee game on one tv and stream the GA/FAU game on the computer. It sounded like a good plan. Unfortunately, the football gods frowned on my passing up stadium seats for the couch, and the cable went out. Since we have a cable modem, we couldn't watch football on television or the web. What a disappointment.
I don't think I'd do anything differently in repeat circumstances. Georgia went on to win 56 to 20 without my participation, I still have those 60 dollars in my bank account, and I'll definitely be back in Sanford Stadium next week when an actual SEC team finally comes to town. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned in this experience, but I guess like any good bulldog, I'm too stubborn to learn it.
Once again, it's a beautiful September Saturday in Athens, the perfect time to kick off the 7th Annual Wriphe.com Batman and Football Month! (And I have the sunburn to prove it!)
The Bulldogs start the season ranked #6, but we won't be there long if we play any more games like we played today. Yes, we won 45 to 23, but not for lack of trying. Not that the University of Buffalo Bulls lack talent, but they shouldn't be threatening a Southeastern Conference team for the lead going into halftime. I was worried until, with time expiring in the second quarter, UB settled for 3 points instead of attempting to score a touchdown and take the lead. If UB wants to play to lose, we'll be glad to let them.
The Dawgs were missing 5 starters due to injury and suspension, and the defense played like it. Mental mistakes were the rule of the day, mistakes we cannot afford to repeat against a team trying to win. At least the two rookies in the UGA backfield, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall looked like they'll turn out to be some damn good Dawgs, so there's hope for the season after losing last year's running back Isaiah Crowell to his own stupidity.
This is the last post of Batman and Football Month, and it hasn't come a moment too soon for the Miami Dolphins, who have opened the season 0-3 and are facing the chip-on-their-shoulder San Diego Chargers this weekend before heading into their bye next week. If the Dolphins can't pick up a win before the bye, I predict very bad things for head coach Tony Sparano next week. It seems very likely he'll soon be joining the 14 million currently unemployed Americans. I'm not too upset: odds are that at least one of those 14 million would make a better coach than Sparano.
Meanwhile, this weekend will mark the third football game I've missed in Sanford Stadium since 2002. In recent weeks the Georgia Bulldogs have pulled out of their nosedive and look not half bad at 2-2 heading into this weekend's SEC contest with Mississippi State Bulldogs. Unfortunately, work calls, and I've been forced to give my ticket to Trey's girl Leslie. I'm sure she'll have a good time at this week's dog fight. Not as good a time as I would have had, but a good time.
What a difference a week makes. Last week Sanford Stadium was abuzz with nervous anticipation as SEC rival South Carolina roared into town in their current bid for national dominance. This week felt more like a relaxed church reunion as Coastal Carolina limped in to take their whipping from a far superior Georgia team.
See that? That's what Sanford Stadium looks like in the 4th quarter of a 59-0 football game. Even the students had long gone home.
Georgia normally opens the season against a weak opponent to try to pick up steam for the coming season. Because of our participation in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Pre-Season Edition), we don't get our first gimmie game until today. And boy, was it a gimmie. Coastal Carolina found no way to compete with Georgia, outmatched on offense and defense. Even their mascot seemed deferential and outclassed, spending most of the game looking but unable to spot any of the few Coastal Carolina fans in attendance.
I mean no disrespect to the Chanticleers. Their slaughter was simply a necessary sacrifice to the football gods to restore Georgia's honor after two consecutive losses to open the season. And the Bulldogs made the most of the situation, playing hard enough that even Russ, the curmudgeonly substitute-Uga, came out of his dog house to see what all the fuss was about. Briefly.
No point to get too excited. After all, in 4 previous games against Division I-A schools in the past decade, the Chanticleers had lost by a combined 164-13. Now make that 223-13. Go back to sleep, Russ. There's nothing to see here.
I welcomed football season with a trip to Eastman, Georgia, to watch the football team of the school at which my brother teaches. They weren't very good, and I say that generously.
The Dodge County High School Indians lost to the Lucy C. Laney High School Wildcats, 26-13. I had a very enjoyable time, despite the behavior of the children in attendance who insisted on running up and down the metal bleachers in their flip flops. It was surprisingly loud for a high school football game. Fans attending a UGA game would have been proud of the support shown by the home team.
Quite by accident on the way out of town after the game, I discovered a memorial to Mr. Angel, the first recognized Bulldog mascot of the University of Georgia. The monument was dated 2008, and a bit of research after the fact revealed that it was built only after the dog was snubbed by an official UGA mascot list snubbed the poor fellow in 2006. It's a pretty cool monument for a dog with such a silly name.
The next day, the Bulldog's current mascot, Russ, wisely chose to hide in his doghouse and not to show his face in Georgia's latest loss. The University of South Carolina came to town and quite simply outplayed UGA on the way to a 45-42 victory. At least the Georgia coaches aren't directly to blame for the loss. Bobo's play-calling was generally far better than usual, and the team appeared ready to play, if unable to find an answer for the superior talent of USC's Marcus Lattimore.
Walking into the game, Trey and I had a conversation with a pair of South Carolina fans who claimed to be attending their first game in Athens. They were extremely concerned about potential maltreatment by the UGA fans, who they claim have an especially bad reputation in South Carolina and throughout the SEC. I've always felt that UGA fans are unusually gracious when compared to those found in some other stadiums. But later during the game, two drunk, obnoxious Georgia fans managed to offend nearly a dozen other UGA fans sitting nearby. If we can't stand our own fans, I can't imagine that we are engendering much love outside our home field.
As you can see in the Flash file above showcasing nightfall in Athens, the field markings and stadium scoreboard have been redesigned for 2011. It's not an improvement, but it's better than the uniforms worn last week. If nothing else, the Georgia "G" needs to be returned to the goal line where it belongs. Georgia needs all the help they can get finding it.
While I'm on the subject of catalogs, do you notice anything odd about the cover to this catalog I received in the mail last week?
No? Maybe it's kind of hard at that resolution. Here, let me help; I've got an eye for this sort of thing. How about this?
Gee, whiz! What happened to that poor dog's toes? Look, I know that Uga VII is dead, so you can't get any new photographs of him. But there isn't exactly a shortage of images of him sitting on grass. Especially since this image is a photoshopped from a picture of... Uga VII sitting on grass.
These images are all the intellectual property of long-time Athens photographer Danny White. According to UGA, Mr. White has been the "official Uga portrait photographer since 1973." And so far as I can tell, he's taken some pretty darn good pictures of some damn good dogs. On first glance, you might think that this is one of them. Seems like someone disagrees with you, though.
Granted, there are a few unsightly wrinkles in Uga's custom Nike jersey. And his right eye is looking a little lazy. And he's got some grass hanging out of his mouth. But none of that explains why someone 'shopped in some li'l doggy toes!
Don't just take my word for it, see for yourself here against the original:
Mouse over/off this swf to control your own seizure.
If you really like this image -- the photoshopped one, not the original -- you can pick up your own copy as a handy refrigerator magnet available at www.ugaredzone.com. (For reasons unexplained, the magnet image is slightly different than either of the other two!) However, be warned: you'd better be prepared to explain to your observant guests why you have a picture of a dog with fake feet.
Yesterday's UGA season opener versus the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns was more family reunion than football game.
Those poor Cajuns were outmatched from the time they signed the contract to play the game, and everyone, including the Cajuns, seemed to know it and planned accordingly. That UGA managed 55 points with a freshman quarterback and several stars deactivated for a litany of violations against team rules, accused NCAA infractions, and state laws wasn't nearly as surprising as the fact that the Cajuns scored 7 points. (They scored on their only completed deep pass one play following UGA's sole turnover of the game, an interception off a bobbled reception. It's always better to be lucky than good.)
For those of you who have wondered, mouse over to see my seats.
The smell of sunblock was more prevalent than the smell of beer as old friends caught up on gossip gained since last year's season finale versus Kentucky. The temperature was unseasonably mild and insidiously pleasant, distracting everyone from cooking in the direct early afternoon sunlight. Twin F-18's missed their cue, arriving about 30 seconds too early and washing out the "Sanford Stadium tradition" of the Redcoat Marching Band's rendition of the National Anthem, but nobody was disappointed. Even Russ, Uga's temporarily replacement seemed contentedly lethargic as he lazily (and not without much coaxing) fulfilled his mandatory photo-op duty for the University. It was really a pretty swell atmosphere for a football bloodbath.
Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the endzones are painted slightly differently than in past years. I pointed this fact out to my mother before kickoff. "Only you would notice something like that," she sighed. I also noticed that the roof of Russ's doghouse read "UGA Mascot" instead of "Uga" (as it did last year) and that the scoreboard promoted UGA players now in the NFL using a logo that the NFL replaced two years ago. I didn't bother pointing these things out. I'm sure mom appreciated my silence.
The University of Georgia's football season has been so bad, it killed our mascot: Uga VII died of a heat attack yesterday, November 19, after a mere 23 games as mascot and only 15 months after the death of his predecessor, also from heart failure. Uga VII (born Loran's Best) was only 4 years old at the time of his death and had the shortest reign of all Ugas to date. As a result of his sudden departure, no live mascot will be lounging in his custom-built doghouse for Saturday's prime-time home game against Kentucky.
Though it is too soon to tell, there is an indication that Uga VII may be the last Uga. "There may not be an Uga VIII," said Uga VII's owner, Swann Seiler, in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, What this means is still up for debate, as reporter Alexis Stevens followed typical AJC procedure and did not follow through on this intriguing line of inquiry, but it would not be unprecedented to have a differently named english bulldog mascot in future seasons. Prior to 1956, Georgia had bulldog mascots named Mike, Butch, and Mr. Angel. And lest we not forget more recently the 1986 temporary Uga IV replacement named Otto. Heck, our next mascot need not necessarily be a bulldog at all.
The historical record reports that Georgia's first football mascot was a goat. Columns, the University's internal newsletter, indicates that inaugural football coach Charles Herty nicknamed the team the "Goats" in February 1892. "At that time the goat was a mascot for everyone," UGA Associate Director of Alumni Relations Charles McBride is quoted in the Jan. 20, 1988 edition of the student-run Red and Black newspaper. "They would just decorate an old goat from the University farm and take it to the game." The Athens Banner-Herald newspaper claims the goat was our mascot for some time, at least two years, though the official mascot may have been the goat for as long as 3 or 4 decades. A paucity of recorded information makes ascertaining the time of the shift between official mascots uncertain, much less the name of that original goat.
According to the University's Athletic Department and other sources, the unnamed live goat was replaced by a bull terrier named Trilby in 1894. From Trilby the University would generate the nickname "bulldogs," which took several decades to saturate the popular consciousness as team mascot despite many people claiming credit for the idea. The Feb. 4, 1938, Red and Black contains reminiscences by Herman J. Stegeman and Robert L. McWhorter -- both men who now have buildings on campus named in their honor -- who debate the exact dates but agree that the team was known internally as the Bulldogs prior to 1921. (Historical note: the game that Stegeman recalls against Yale discussed in the linked article above took place in 1923, not 1921.) The Bulldog was not made the official mascot of the University until a ceremony at halftime of the annual game versus Georgia Tech on Nov. 26, 1938.
While I don't expect a return to the Georgia Goat (a nickname possibly already claimed by current quarterback Joe Cox), I wouldn't be surprised to see a lineage change for the bulldogs. Like the University itself, the Ugas have been growing all too fat and indolent in recent years. Whether the Seilers have tired of the spotlight, the weekly journey from Savannah, or the minefield of internal UGA politics, perhaps a return to the likes of Mr. Angel would do us some good.
So long, Uga VII. It was nice knowing you.
Yes, I know that I should have posted yesterday in order to maintain my "every 3 days" posting rule, but I omitted the post on purpose so that I could prepare for today's post, the early kickoff to my Annual Batman and Football Month!
Today was the kickoff for the 2009 University of Georgia Bulldogs, who start the season ranked #1 in both the coaches and sportswriters national polls for the first time in school history. It was also the first game for Loran's Best, newly baptized as Uga VII, the latest in a distinguished line of Georgia mascots.
Uga VII was introduced to the fans exactly 10 minutes before kickoff of today's season opener against Georgia Southern. And he remained pretty much the focus of the fans and the cameras for the remainder of the game. Even a brief appearance by Georgia Southern's live eagle mascot, Freedom, couldn't steal Uga VII's spotlight.
Like all season openers, the presentation had it's rough spots. The boosters failed to properly support the Georgia "G" flag that the player's typically run through following pre-game introductions (as seen on recent ESPN promotions), and as a result the flag tore in two long before the players ever reached it. The GSU Band apparently got lost on the way to the game, failing to arrive until mere minutes before their scheduled halftime performance. [Update 09/02/08: From my source in Statesboro: "It pains me to say that I have to correct the information I gave you a bit. YES, the bus was broke down for an hour and a half and that was the main reason they were late... however, the mother fuckers did get lost. I found that out last night. So you guys guessed correctly. Still, the MAIN reason was the flat."] Even the grounds crew needs some extra practice this year. Note the drop shadow error on the "B" in the endzone "Bulldogs" below.
Despite the snags and the the melting heat of the early afternoon sun, we beat GSU 45-21. It was a foregone conclusion that we would win easily, and we did. As a result, Uga VII started his reign as mascot with a 1-0 record. That's the sort of tradition that I can get behind.