Vince Dooley, Legendary Georgia Coach, Dies At 90

The death of legendary Georgia football coach Vince Dooley was revealed on Friday. He passed away at his home in Athens, Georgia. He was 90.

From 1964 to 1988, under Dooley’s direction, the Bulldogs had a 201-58 record, six Southeastern Conference titles, and a national title in 1980. From 1979 through 2004, he oversaw the school’s sporting program as the school’s athletic director.

Vince Dooley, Legendary Georgia Coach, Dies At 90
Vince Dooley, Legendary Georgia Coach, Dies At 90

Georgia’s athletic director, Josh Brooks, released a statement saying, “We are heartbroken to hear of Coach Dooley’s passing.” The success of Georgia athletics can be directly attributed to Vince Dooley. He guided us as an example, helped us grow, and was always there for us. I’m keeping Barbara and his loved ones in my prayers. I am deeply pleased to fill the shoes of Vince Dooley, one of the best coaches and athletics administrators in history. Every single one of us here at the University of Georgia is committed to perpetuating his legacy for years to come.

Dooley was unable to hold his usual book signing on the University of Georgia campus on October 8 before the Bulldogs’ home game against Auburn because he was hospitalized with COVID and pneumonia. He got back to his house not long after that and said he was all set to make his appearance at the UGA Bookstore on October 15 for the homecoming game against Vanderbilt.

Dooley, a native of Mobile, Alabama, was the starting quarterback for the 1950s Auburn Tigers and the team captain in his senior year. After his time in the Marines, he returned to his alma institution to serve as an assistant coach from 1956 to 1963 under Ralph “Shug” Jordan until accepting a position at Georgia in 1964.

Dooley’s heyday was the early 1980s, but he won SEC titles with the Bulldogs in 1966, 1968, and 1976. Georgia won three straight SEC titles and reached the national championship game every year from 1980 to 1982 behind stars like Heisman Trophy-winning running back Herschel Walker and All-American safety Terry Hoage.

Georgia went undefeated in 1980, beating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl on the way to its first national championship since 1942. From 1980–1983, the Bulldogs finished in the top five in the league every year with a 43–4–1 record.

After the 1980 title triumph, Dooley was approached about becoming the coach at his alma mater, but he decided to stay in Athens instead. Instead, Auburn brought in Pat Dye, a former All-American guard from Georgia.

Dooley passed on the day before the Bulldogs’ annual rivalry game against Florida, which takes place at a neutral venue in Jacksonville, Florida. In the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” Dooley had a record of 17-7-1, and against Auburn, he was 11-13-1.

As far as SEC coaching victories go, Dooley is fourth all-time, behind only Paul “Bear” Bryant (292), Nick Saban (238), and Steve Spurrier (188). (208). The playing surface at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium was renamed in honor of Dooley in 2019. He is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the College Football Hall of Fame.

When Dooley’s Bulldogs won the Championship in 1976, it had been 41 years since Georgia had last won the national championship. This year’s UGA squad is undefeated (7-0) and riding atop the national rankings as they prepare to face Florida.

UGA President Jere W. Morehead expressed his condolences for the loss of the “famous and revered athletic leader and good friend” to the Bulldog Nation. Twenty years ago, when I served as Faculty Athletics Representative, I first got the chance to spend a lot of time with Coach Dooley.

“I will be eternally appreciative of the countless ways in which he helped to improve the quality of life at the University of Georgia. Going to his house to tell him that Dooley Field would be named after him is one of my favorite memories. All who knew him and learned from him will mourn his passing. Barbara and the entire Dooley family have our heartfelt condolences.

Barbara Meshad Dooley, a native of Birmingham and a classmate of Dooley’s at Auburn, and their four children survive him. Derek, the couple’s son and a football assistant coach at Alabama, was head coach at Tennessee from 2010 to 2012.

Bill Dooley, Vince’s younger brother, also had great coaching success at the collegiate level. He won 162 games while in charge of the programs at Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. In 2016, at age 82, Bill Dooley passed away.

Kirby Smart, the current head coach at Georgia, made the following comment on Twitter:

An official statement from Auburn reads as follows:

Through the University of Alabama’s athletic department, Saban issued the following statement:

I loved Vince Dooley, and the Saban family loved having him as a friend. As a coach and athletic director, Vince was an outstanding example of the highest standards of honesty and dignity for the University of Georgia and all of college football. His influence on the young men he coached over the course of a career was the clearest example of this. Terry and I are devastated by the news of his death and want Barbara and their family to know how much we will miss them. Many people’s lives will be altered by his passing.

 

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