- Helena Oliviero The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia and Oklahoma will battle each other on Jan. 1 in a much-anticipated Rose Bowl, marking the very first time these two storied progams face each other.
The competition on the field should be fierce: UGA’s strong running game against Oklahoma’s potent passing attack.
But when it comes to the mascots, the competition may be more lopsided. At least on the playing field of public opinion.
Georgia’s English Bulldog, Uga, has long been a college football favorite. It was recently voted by USA today as the best mascot in the sport.
The line of dogs dates back to 1956 when Uga I, “Hood’s Ole Dan,” first took the field for the home opener against Florida State.
The white English bulldog was the first of a long line of canines that have served as the beloved four-legged embodiment of Georgia sports.
Today, Uga X reigns over a Bulldogs team chasing its first national title since 1980. The line of pure white English bulldogs, has been owned by the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family of Savannah since Uga I first graced the campus in the 1950s. Uga has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and even starred in best-selling book (and then a movie), “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
Uga wears a spiked collar and custom-made jersey to games. (For the past 20 years, Uga’s jerseys have been custom-made at the beginning of each season from the same material used for the players’ jerseys. Old jerseys are destroyed).
Uga’s on-field home is a permanent air conditioned doghouse located next to the cheerleaders’ platform, helping keep the pooch comfortable during the still-warm days of August and September in Georgia.
University of Georgia buries its mascots within the confines of the stadium. Ugas I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII are buried in marble vaults near the main gate. Epitaphs to the dogs are inscribed in bronze, and before each home game, flowers are placed on their graves. The memorial plot draws hundreds of fans and visitors each year.
University of Oklahoma fans have Boomer and Sooner — costumed mascots representing two creamy white ponies that pull the Sooner Schooner, a Conestoga wagon across Owen Field in a victory ride after every OU score. Boomer is a blue-eyed horse; Sooner is a brown-eyed horse.
Jeff Hughes, club president of the OU (University of Oklahoma) Club of Atlanta, said he has always liked their mascots.
“The pony costumes extend that spirit beyond the football field, especially for the kids, which they do a fantastic job,” he said in an e-mail.
As far as whether they are cooler than UGA’s mascot, he said, “I think they fit our school image as rugged and durable like the people who settled the state.”
He also shared this nugget of history: the first mascot for Oklahoma was a dog named “Mex” who attended football and baseball games for 15 years.
Even so, while Oklahoma’s Boomer and Sooners may not share the iconic reputation of Uga but they’ve got the “Boomer Sooner” fight song of the Oklahoma Sooners and may be the most popular two-word phrase in all of college football.
It has been around since 1905 but has never been more popular than it is now. In a 2012 Bleacher Report ranking of the top 50 Coolest College Football Sayings, Boomer Sooner came in No. 3.
Oklahoma fans love to chant it, opposing teams hate the sound of it.
Kickoff from the Rose Bowl is slated for 5 p.m. New Year’s Day from Pasadena, Calif.
RELATED: A timeline of UGA football mascots