Too Many Dawgs on the Field

During the 1997 game between Georgia and Kentucky, a chocolate Lab named Tubby went down in football history

Photo: Adobe Stock

Georgia logo at Sanford Stadium.

Typically, on a fall Saturday in the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, you’ll only find eleven Dawgs on the field at any given time. That is, unless a rogue local chocolate Lab gets his way. 

On October 25, 1997, the Georgia Bulldogs played the Kentucky Wildcats at home in Athens. Mark Schlabach, now a columnist for ESPN who was covering the Bulldogs at the time, sat in the press box high above the field when the people around him started to cheer. “I looked up from my laptop in the press box and saw the dog standing at midfield,” Schlabach wrote for ESPN in 2019. “Immediately, I knew it was mine—and I could feel the blood drain from my face.”

Tubby, a one-year-old chocolate Lab, was known to be a troublemaker, often sneaking out of Schlabach’s house and journeying towards local restaurants or any destination where he might find a tennis ball. Or a football. 

The day of the Kentucky game, Schlabach had left Tubby inside his house. But four minutes into the first quarter, after apparently escaping the house and trailing the Redcoat Marching Band through a side gate into the stadium, Tubby darted onto the field, stopping play as he skirted players, coaches, and security guards. “Now he’s gone to the Georgia huddle,” the legendary UGA announcer Larry Munson commentated. “Bobo and Corey Allen started toward him, but he keeps breaking out into the Kentucky secondary. He runs by an official. I can’t believe I’m doing the play-by-play of a dog.” 

After about four minutes, the Athens-Clarke County Animal Control apprehended him and hauled him off to a shelter, where he spent a day in solitary confinement to atone for his behavior. 

The Bulldogs won 23–13 that day, and junior defensive back Kirby Smart, now UGA’s head coach, had two interceptions, but it was Tubby that made the biggest impression. A month later, he had a hearing in a municipal court (the charges were dropped) and his story was told in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SportsCenter, and CNN, among other outlets, proving that even a “bad dog” can still be a damn good dawg. 

Watch Tubby in the video below (his part starts at 38 seconds) and read Schlabach’s account here.